For those of us who were waiting for the Government to issue the eagerly awaited guidance on the Job Support Scheme (“JSS”), which was supposed to start today, forget about it. For now.
Developments over the weekend have placed the JSS onto the back burner, meaning that it will not go live just yet. Instead, the Prime Minister announced on Halloween, that the furlough scheme (the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – “CJRS”) would be extended to December. This was in line with the national lockdown for England. Employers and employees will have been gearing up for life without the CJRS which was due to end on 31 October 2020. Many employers will already have made decisions prior to this weekend, knowing of the Halloween end date for furlough.
This extension to the CJRS will look slightly different to the version which existed last month. For instance, the Government will support up to 80% of staff wages, up to a cap of £2500 (in October the Government would only pay 60%, leaving employers having to pay the balance up to 80%). Employers will still have to pay the staff national insurance and pension costs (similar to how the CJRS operated in the month of August).
Importantly, in order to access the extended CJRS, it is not necessary for the employer (or the employee) to have previously used the CJRS. However, it is necessary for an employee to have been on the employer’s payroll as at 30 October 2020. It will be possible for either flexible or full-time furlough arrangements to apply.
Employers claiming under the extended regime must report and claim for a minimum period of 7 consecutive calendar days. This report must include the actual hours worked by the employee in the claim period, together with the usual hours they would have worked in that period.
Further details are awaited, including the date on which claims can first be processed under the extended CJRS. For example, we do not yet know the answer to the crucial question of whether employers will be permitted to re-hire staff that have recently departed (similar to what was permitted when the scheme first aired in March).
Employers should be communicating with their staff as the landscape continues to change. Many employers will have already canvassed with staff the possibility of agreement to utilise the JSS. That will now have to be changed, for example to an agreement to remain on furlough.
We will provide further updates when we are able.
Jack Boyle, Director
Accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as a Specialist in Employment Law
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