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    Everything you need to know about the Job Support Scheme

    The most important thing to remember with the new Job Support Scheme is that it will fully replace the Job Retention Scheme!

    Employers have been able to put their staff on furlough since March and this is coming to an end on 31 October 2020, allowing the Job Support Scheme to kick in from 1 November.

    The Job Support Scheme… what is it?

    It is no secret that people are losing their jobs. Business owners who would have flourished in the summer period under normal circumstances have had to lay off their staff, or at least put them on furlough… until that inevitably comes to an end.

    The Job Support scheme will protect jobs further. Over the winter months, when demand will be lower again for many businesses, the new scheme will help to keep employees employed AND working.

    Employers can only get their staff paid through JSS if they are working fewer hours; it does not apply to those who are working no hours at all. Hence, more people should be back at work.

    Any time worked will be paid by the employer. The remaining time not worked is then to be split between the employer (through a wage reduction) and the government (through wage support).

    The amount paid by the government will be capped and the employer will pay a third of the time not worked. This results in the employee earning a minimum of 77% of the normal wages.

    If an employer chooses to use the Job Support Scheme, they may claim for the Job Retention Bonus if they meet the criteria!

    The scheme will open on 1 November 2020 and run for 6 months, until April 2021.

    Who is eligible for the scheme?

    The employer or employee does not have to have used the Job Retention Scheme to be eligible, so anyone can claim! They just need to meet the rest of the criteria:

    Employers

    – Providing they have a UK bank account and UK PAYE scheme, an employer can claim the grant

    – Turnover must be lower now than it was before, showing difficulties arising from COVID-19 (not necessary for SMEs). Large businesses must take a financial assessment test as proof

    – It is expected that large employers using the Scheme will not be making capital distributions, such as dividend payments or share buybacks, whilst accessing the grant

    Employees

    – Must have been on an employer’s PAYE payroll on or before 23 September 2020. A Real Time Information (RTI) submission must also have been made by then

    – Over the first 3 months of the scheme the employee must work at least 33% of their usual hours. After this period the government will consider increasing the minimum hours threshold

    – Employees can be cycled on and off the scheme and do not have to work the same pattern each month. Each short-time working arrangement must cover a minimum period of 7 days

    What does the grant cover?

    For hours not worked, 2 thirds of the employee’s usual hourly wage are covered! The government and the employer pay a third of this each, with the government’s contribution to be capped at £697.92 a month.

    Grant payments will be made in arrears to reimburse the employer for the government’s contribution. The grant will not cover Class 1 employer NICs or pension contributions, although these contributions will remain payable by the employer.

    “Usual wages” calculations will be made following a similar method of that used for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Employees who have previously been furloughed will have their underlying usual pay and/or hours used to calculate usual wages, not the amount they were paid whilst on furlough.

    What does it mean to be on reduced hours?

    In order to qualify for the scheme, employers must be working on reduced hours. This will take into account the following:

    – The employee must be working at least 33% of their usual hours
    – For the time worked, employees must be paid their normal contracted wage
    – Employees will be paid up to two-thirds of their usual wage for any time they don’t work
    – Most importantly, employees cannot be made redundant or put on notice of redundancy while their employer is claiming the grant for that employee

    How to claim

    The scheme opens for claims from 1 November 2020 and will close at the end of April 2021. Employers will be able to make a claim on the government website from December 2020, we’ll update you when the portal is ready to use!

    Grants will be payable in arrears. What this means is a claim can only be submitted in respect of a given pay period. Once a payment has been made to the employee and is reported to HMRC via an RTI return, the grant payment will be sent to the employer.

    HMRC checks

    It is worth knowing that HMRC will be checking claims. Payments may be withheld or need to be paid back if a claim is found to be fraudulent or has been based on any incorrect information. Grants can only be used as reimbursement for wage costs that are actually incurred by the employee.

    Employers must agree on new, short-time working arrangements with their staff. They must make any changes to the employment contract by agreement, and notify the employee in writing. This agreement must be made available to HMRC on request.

    Examples of use of the grant

    Beth normally works 5 days a week and earns £350 a week. Her company is suffering reduced sales due to coronavirus. Rather than making Beth redundant, the company puts Beth on the Job Support Scheme, working 2 days a week (40% of her usual hours).

    Her employer pays Beth £140 for the days she works. For the time she is not working (3 days or 60%, worth £210), she will also earn 2/3, or £140, bringing her total earnings to £280, 80% of her normal wage.

    The Government will give a grant worth £70 (1/3 of hours not worked, equivalent to 20% of her normal wages) to Beth’s employer to support them in keeping Beth’s job.

    More to come

    There is more information to come on this. We will keep updating you as we receive it and share the link to the claims portal once it is open. If you have any questions for our team in the meantime, please give us a shout!

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