In what has been described as a "safety net" the Chancellor has declared through a televised interview and a press release that the Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be expanded to protect jobs and support businesses required to close their doors as a result of coronavirus restrictions.The headlines are as follows:
- The JSS will be expanded to support businesses across the UK required to close their premises due to coronavirus restrictions.
- The UK wide scheme will begin on 1 November 2020 and will be available for six months, with a review point in January 2021.
- The government will pay two thirds of employees' salaries (67%) to protect jobs, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.
- Employers will not be required to contribute towards wages and will only be required to cover NICs and pension contributions.
- Employers will only be eligible to claim the grant while they are subject to restrictions and employees must be off work for a minimum of seven consecutive days.
- Payments to businesses will be made in arrears, via a HMRC claims service that will be available from early December.
In addition to the expansion of the JSS the Chancellor also announced an increase in cash grants for businesses required to close in local lockdowns of up to £3,000 per month in England. These grants will be linked to rateable values, with up to £3,000 per month payable every two weeks, compared to the up to £1,500 every three weeks which was available previously. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland there will be a £1.3 billion increase to their guaranteed funding for 2020-21 allowing them to provide similar measures if they wish.
Focusing on businesses which will be legally required to shut for some period over the winter as part of local or national restrictions, the measures are designed to enable employers to quickly reopen once restrictions are lifted. As has become customary, further guidance and detail is to follow but it provides a measure of immediate relief to organisations facing the double impact of enforced closure and the end of the Job Retention Scheme, where until today the Job Support Scheme would not have been accessible to businesses who could not provide work. The Chancellor went on to confirm "the expansion of the Job Support Scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time".
It is important to note that this is an extension to the support already announced on 24 September as outlined in our Legal Update.
With extensive restrictions expected, it is key for employers to consider and utilise the support available.
Please do not hesitate to contact one of our UK based employment experts if you require assistance.