Monday, December 7th, 2020
In accordance with the uncertainty that this year has brought, there has been a general rule that, as government coronavirus measures are on the cusp of implementation, they are modified or suspended. Indeed, that has been the case for the Job Support Scheme (JSS), which, following the announcement of a second national lockdown on the Halloween weekend, has been suspended until further notice. On 5 November 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) would be further extended until the end of March 2021, having originally been extended until December 2020 only. This decision has provided a sigh of relief for employers and employees alike, who have found the JSS rules to be unnecessarily bureaucratic.
The government have announced that, for claim periods running to January 2021, employees will receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The £2,500 cap is proportional to the hours not worked.
Employer contributions during the Job Retention Scheme extension until January will be the same as in August 2020. This means that for hours not worked by their employee, employers will only be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions. Employees that were employed and on the payroll on 23 September 2020 who were made redundant can be re-employed and CJRS funding claimed for that employee.
The government will review the policy in January 2021 to decide whether economic circumstances have improved enough to ask employers for a larger contribution.
The following eligibility criteria apply to the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retentions Scheme:
- Employers do not need to have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme previously;
- Employers must have UK bank accounts and UK ‘Pay As You Earn’ (PAYE) schemes; and
- Employers are not expected to use the scheme if they are wholly publicly funded organisations. Partially publicly funded organisations may be eligible where their private revenues have been disrupted.
- Employees must have been on an employer’s PAYE payroll by 11:59 p.m. on 30 October 2020;
- Employees can be on any type of employment contract. Employers will have flexibility to use the scheme for employees for any amount of time or shift pattern, furloughing employees on either a full-time or part-time basis, and will be able to vary the hours worked in agreement with the employee; and
- Employees must be furloughed for a minimum of seven consecutive calendar days.
Employers have been able to claim under the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme since 8am on Wednesday 11 November 2020. Claims relating to each subsequent month should be submitted by day 14 of the following month.
As a further change to government policy, The Job Retention Bonus (JRB) will not be paid in February 2021. Government guidance states that a retention incentive will be deployed, rather ambiguously, at ‘the appropriate time’.
Tom Stubbs is a Paralegal in Hanne & Co’s Employment Team