The UK Government designed the Job Support Scheme (JSS) to replace the furlough scheme when it ends on 31 October 2020. Originally, the JSS would provide support for employee pay, provided the employee worked at least one third of their usual hours and the employer contributed an additional one third of their usual pay (for the hours not worked).
The government has now announced an update to the JSS for businesses required to close entirely due to tighter local or national restrictions. We’re calling this “JSS Closed”.
JSS Closed will provide support for two-thirds of employees’ wages (subject to a cap of £2,100 a month) if you are required to close your premises.
There’s are also changes for businesses remaining open, and we’re calling this “JSS Open”. Under this scheme, the minimum employee hours has been reduced from one-third to 20% (e.g. one day a week for someone who usually works a five day week).
Also, the employer’s contribution to lost wages is reduced from 33% to 5%, up to a cap of £125 per month. The government will now contribute 61.67% of pay for hours not worked, up to a cap of £1,541.75.
Therefore, employees under the JSS Open scheme will receive at least 73% of their normal pay, up to a monthly limit of £3,125. For employees that usually earn more than this, employers can top this up further if they wish.
This is much better than the original JSS scheme, but is still less generous than the earlier furlough scheme (the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme).
Using JSS Open and Closed together
You can claim under both JSS Open and JSS Closed at the same time, but not for the same employees. This is intended for situations where one part of the business is forced to close, but another part of the business can stay open.
JSS & the Job Retention Bonus
You can get the £1,000 bonus for bringing a furloughed employee back to work as well as claiming support for that employee under the JSS. To qualify for the bonus, the employee would need to remain continuously employed to the end of January 2021 and earn a minimum of £1,560 (gross) between 6 November and 5 February 2021. Note that the JSS grant can count towards that minimum income threshold.
You must be aware of some important considerations, if you plan to use the JSS with your employees.
First, as with the furlough scheme, if employees end up on reduced pay, this needs to be agreed with the employees (or unions, if applicable) as a change to their contractual terms and conditions. You cannot impose it arbitrarily.
Second, unlike the furlough scheme, you cannot make an employee redundant or put them on notice of redundancy during the period you’re claiming under the JSS for that employee. They need to be taken off the JSS first, which means the employer bears the full costs of the employee being made/on notice of redundancy. This may change the mathematics over the redundancy decisions, or pause any current consultation process.