Job Support Scheme

The Job Support Scheme replaces the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme from 1 November 2020. The scheme, which has already evolved since it was originally announced to provide a greater level of support, will run for six months until 30 April 2021. The Government will review the level of support provided under the scheme in January 2021.

Nature of the scheme

The Job Support Scheme provides grants to eligible employers to enable them to pay employees who are working reduced hours as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, or who are unable to work because the business has been required to shut as a result of lockdown restrictions. There are two strands to the scheme – one for open businesses and one for closed business.

Support for open businesses

The Job Support Scheme for open businesses allows you to claim a government grant to top-up the wages of your employees who are working at least 20% of their usual hours. You must pay the employee for the hours worked at their contracted rate. To be eligible to claim a grant, you must also pay the employee for 5% of their usual hours that are unworked, again at the contracted rate. Your contribution for unworked hours is capped at £125 per month. You can claim a grant for 61.67% of the employee’s unworked hours from the Government. The Government will pay those hours at the employee’s usual rate, subject to a cap of £1,541.75 per month. The cap will apply where the employee earns more than £3,125 per month.

Your employee will receive pay for the hours worked and for two-third of their usual hours that they are not able to work. The percentage of their normal pay that an employee receives depends on the proportion of their usual hours that they work. An employee who works 20% of his or her usual hours will receive 73% of their pay, whereas an employee who works one-third of their usual hours will receive just under 78% of their pay.

The level of support now available under the scheme is higher than was originally announced. Under the original proposals, employees had to work at least one-third of their usual hours to be eligible for a grant, with the employer paying one-third of the unworked hours and the Government paying a further third (capped at £697.62 per month). The reduction in the hours worked requirement, and the substantial reduction in the employer contribution, are to be welcomed. In its original format, the costs imposed on the employer would have meant that for many businesses struggling to survive, the scheme was not viable.

Amounts paid to employees benefitting from the Job Support Scheme are liable to tax and National Insurance, as for usual payments of wages and salary. You must account for these as normal through your payroll and pay the deductions over to HMRC, with your employer’s National Insurance. You will be required to meet the full cost of the employer’s National Insurance on the total payment made to the employee, including the grant element – you cannot claim this back from the Government. Pension contributions under auto-enrolment must be paid as normal, as must the apprenticeship levy.

More details of the scheme, together with examples of how it will work in practice, can be found in the factsheet published by the Government.

Support for closed businesses

The Job Support Scheme for closed businesses provides a higher level of support to business which are required to close as a result of local lockdown restrictions, such as pubs not serving substantial meals in Tier 3 lockdown areas. If your business is restricted to delivery or collection services only as a result of lockdown restrictions, you will also qualify for the scheme for closed businesses.

If you are forced to close due to lockdown restrictions imposed by one of the four governments in the UK, you will be able to claim a grant with which to pay your employees, as long as your employees are instructed to cease work for at least seven consecutive days, and actually do so. You cannot claim a grant for employees who are working from home.

Unlike the open scheme, you do not need to pay the employee for any unworked hours. Instead, you can claim a grant of two-thirds of the employee’s usual pay, subject to a cap of £2,100 per month. The grant will cover wages paid to employees who are unable to work. The scheme will mean that workers who are not subject to the cap will receive two-third of their usual pay. You can top up your employees’ pay if you want to, but there is no obligation to do so.

You will, however, have to pay employer’s National Insurance on grant payments, and also any employer pension contributions and the apprenticeship levy as normal. You must deduct PAYE tax and employee’s National Insurance contributions from payments made to employees, and report pay and deductions to HMRC under RTI.

The Government factsheet on the scheme for closed businesses provides more details.

Eligible employers

You will be eligible to claim a grant under the relevant Job Support Scheme if you have a UK bank account and a UK PAYE scheme which was registered, and in respect of which an RTI submission had been made, on or before 23 September 2020. You do not need to have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to be eligible to use the Job Support Scheme.

Under the scheme for open businesses, a financial impact test applies to large businesses with 250 or more employees. If you fall into this category, you will have to demonstrate that your turnover is not above the level that it was before you experienced difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you claim under the Job Support Scheme, you will still be eligible to claim the Job Retention Bonus, as long as the qualifying conditions are met.

Claiming the grant

Grants are payable in arrears. Unfortunately, this means that you must pay the money to your employees before you receive it back from the Government, and report the payments and deductions to HMRC via RTI. While this will limit fraudulent claims, it may cause cash flow problems for businesses who have either been forced to close or are operating at reduced capacity. You may need extra funding to cover the first month. Grants payable to businesses in Tier 2 and 3 lockdown areas may help bridge the gap.

Claims must be made online via the dedicated portal, which is due to open on 8 December 2020. Claims will be paid on a monthly basis.

Speak to us

Speak to us to find out what help may be available to you under the Job Support Scheme.