We previously updated clients on the JSS (announced on 24 September 2020). The original proposal requires employees to work for one third of their normal hours to enable a claim to be made and therefore did not provide support to businesses that are legally required to close their premises due to local or national COVID-19 restrictions, resulting in employees being unable to work at all.
The Chancellor has announced an extension to the JSS from 1 November 2020 to help businesses that are required to close their premises as a direct result of local or national COVID-19 restrictions. The extension does not apply to businesses required by local public health authorities to close following a specific workplace outbreak. It appears, at present, that large employers can claim under the scheme. No mention of a financial assessment test has been proposed although it has been indicated that there is an expectation that larger employers will not claim if they are still making capital distributions.
The extension to the JSS appears to be more akin to a new version of the CJRS “furlough scheme”. The further information section of HM Treasury’s announcement of the extension refers to employees being “furloughed” for a minimum period of seven consecutive days to be eligible under the new scheme.
Under the new extended JSS:
- To be eligible, an employee must be off work for a minimum of seven consecutive days following an instruction from their employer to cease work as a result of a closure of the employer’s premises.
- It applies to employees for whom a RTI submission has been made on or before 23 September 2020.
- The government will pay two thirds of eligible employees’ normal pay (to £2,100 per month) to employers in arrears and subject to tax.
- The payments will only be made in respect of periods that an employee has ceased work altogether.
- Employers will not be required to contribute, but they will be required to cover employer NICs and auto enrolment pension contributions.
- Employers can choose to “top up” the payments.
- An employer does not need to have made claims under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to make a claim under the extended JSS.
- When its premises re-open, an employer can claim under the “standard” JSS if it meets the criteria applicable to that part of the scheme.
- An employee cannot be made redundant or put on notice of redundancy during the period in respect of which their employer is making a claim.
- HMRC will publish the names of employers that have used the JSS, so that employees can see if their employer has claimed for them. This was not done in relation to the earlier CJRS scheme.
The extension will sit alongside the original JSS and the Job Retention Bonus (JRB) scheme. The online claims service is expected to be available from early December 2020. We are informed that further guidance from HMRC is awaited “in the coming weeks”. The new schemes are due to launch on 1 November 2020.
Further detail is provided at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/job-support-scheme-expanded-to-firms-required-to-close-due-to-covid-restrictions