UPDATE: The Job Support Scheme (JSS), which was due to start on 1 November 2020, has been postponed as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended. The JSS will be introduced following the end of the CJRS.
Here, Julia Fitzsimmons, Partner with FBC Manby Bowdler’s employment team, looks at how the scheme works, who is eligible and specific difficulties employers and employees might have concerns about.
Which employees are eligible for JSS?
Employees who have been on the PAYE payroll on or before 23 September 2020 are eligible for the JSS. They must also work at least 20% of their usual hours.
Can only businesses who furloughed employees use the JSS?
No, the JSS scheme may be used by employers even if they did not take advantage of the furlough scheme. Also, employees do not need to have been furloughed to be eligible for the JSS. As a result, the JSS is open to employees who have continued to work throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but who have been working reduced hours.
What if employees are unable to work 20% of their regular hours because there is no work?
If an employer does not have enough work available to give an employee 20% of their usual working hours, they will not be eligible for the JSS. This element of the JSS has been highly criticised. It is also not clear whether the 20% applies to an average over a month or over a more extended period of time. More guidance is coming from the Government on this as well as how different support may apply depending on what Covid Tier your business is based in.
Employees can cycle on and off the JSS according to the government factsheet, but each working period must cover a minimum of seven days.
If employees enter the scheme, does the employer need to guarantee they will not be made redundant for six months?
There will be no ban on redundancies during the six months of the JSS. The government factsheet outlines that employees may not be made redundant or given notice of redundancy while they are in the JSS. However, employers can move an employee out of the JSS and make them redundant.
What happens if there is a local lockdown and employees in the JSS can’t work?
At present, it has not been made clear how the JSS will be affected by a local lockdown where there is no work available for employees.
Can employees take a holiday while in the JSS?
It is unclear whether holidays will form part of the 20% minimum working hours requirement, or whether they will be regarded as unworked hours. In certain circumstances, employers may be required to ‘top-up’ holiday pay to ensure that employees are receiving the pay they are entitled to. As always, our recommendation would be to seek expert advice if employment policies and procedures have not been updated since the start of the pandemic, given the number of changes in employment regulations.