HR Team is keeping you up to date with employment law and relevant HR advice in relation to this emerging situation.

First, don’t forget to tune into our next webinar

Our next NI/UK specific webinar is hosted by HR Team’s co-Director, Martina McAuley on Thursday, 5th November 2020 at 10.00am. You can log onto the webinar on the day by clicking here.

The Government have provided updated information on the Job Support Scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced updates to the Job Support Scheme on 22nd October 2020 which involves an increase to the scale of support above what was initially announced during the pandemic.

Here is a summary for HR Team clients operating in Northern Ireland/UK (sourced from www.gov.uk HMRC).

If your organisation remains open: (JSS Open)

  • Many employers have placed their employees of reduced hours (short-time working).
  • The Job Support Scheme will provide assistance in keeping employees attached to their workforce.

Main Points:

  • The employee will need to work a minimum of 20% of their usual hours and the employer will continue to pay them as normal for the hours worked.
  • The employee will receive 66.67% of their normal pay for the hours not worked – this will be made up of contributions from the employer and from the government.
  • The employer will pay 5% of reference salary for the hours not worked, up to a maximum of £125 per month, with the discretion to pay more than this if they wish.
  • The government will pay the remainder of 61.67%, of reference salary for the hours not worked, up to a maximum of £1,541.75 per month. This will ensure employees continue to receive at least 73% of their normal wages, where they earn £3,125 a month or less.

If your organisation has been legally required to close premises (JSS Closed)
There is also support available for Employers that have been legally required to close their premises as a direct result of coronavirus restrictions.

  • Each employee who cannot work due to these restrictions will receive two thirds of their normal pay, paid by their employer and fully funded by the government, to a maximum of £2,083.33 per month, although their employer has discretion to pay more than this if they wish.
  • Employees may also be entitled to additional financial support, including Universal Credit.

Other helpful information

  • The Job Support Scheme will be open from 1 November 2020 and run for 6 months, until 30 April 2021.
  • The government will review the terms of the scheme in January.
  • Employers will be able to claim in arrears from 8 December 2020, with payments made after the claim has been approved.
  • Neither the employer nor the employee needs to have benefitted from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to be eligible for the Job Support Scheme.

Eligibility Criteria

Employers will be able to access the Job Support Scheme if:

  • they have enrolled for PAYE Online; and
  • they have a UK, Channel Island or Isle of Man bank account

Employees who can be claimed for (JSS Open and JSS Closed)

  • Eligible employers will be able to claim the Job Support Scheme grant for employees who were on their PAYE payroll between 6 April 2019 and 11:59pm on 23 September 2020.
  • Employers can only claim for employees that were in their employment on 23 September 2020. If employees ceased employment after 23 of September 2020 and were subsequently rehired, then employers can claim for them.
  • An individual is an employee for the purposes of this scheme if they are treated as an employee for Income Tax purposes.
  •  Employees can be on any type of contract, including zero hours or temporary contracts.
  •  Agency workers are regarded as employees of an employment agency for the purposes of this scheme, provided they are employees for Income Tax purposes.
  • Employees do not need to have been furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to be eligible for the Job Support Scheme.
  •  Employers will be able to top up employee wages above the level of minimum contributions at their own expense if they wish.
  • Employers cannot claim both JSS Open and JSS Closed in respect of a single employee for the same day.

Note: Employers cannot claim for an employee who has been made redundant or is serving a contractual or statutory notice period during the claim period.

Who can claim JSS Open

In addition to the general Job Support Scheme eligibility criteria, employers are eligible to claim the JSS Open if:

  • an employer with 250 or more employees on 23 September 2020 has undertaken a Financial Impact Test demonstrating their turnover has remained equal or fallen to show they have been adversely affected due to coronavirus; ·
  • an employer with less than 250 employees on 23 September 2020 is not required to satisfy the test
  • some, or all, of their employees are working reduced hours – employees must still be working for at least 20% of their usual hours

Who can claim JSS Closed

  • In addition to the general Job Support Scheme eligibility criteria, employers are eligible to claim JSS Closed if their business premises at one or more locations has been legally required to close as a direct result of coronavirus restrictions set by one or more of the four governments of the UK.
  • This includes premises restricted to delivery or collection only services from their premises and those restricted to provision of food and/ or drink outdoors.
  • Businesses premises required to close by local public health authorities as a result of specific workplace outbreaks are not eligible for this scheme.
  • Employers are only eligible to claim for periods during which the relevant coronavirus restrictions are in place. Employers will not be able to claim JSS Closed to cover periods after restrictions have lifted and the business premises is legally allowed to reopen. They may then be able to claim JSS Open if they are eligible.
  • This is not a complete list of all the conditions for eligibility for JSS Closed and further guidance will be published by the end of October.

Please contact the HR Team advice line 02871271882 or send us an email at hello@hrteamgroup.com for specific legal advice on placing an employee onto the Job Support Scheme, short-time working, temporary lay-offs, managing absence or closure of your organisation due to COVID19.

Whilst HR Team is following all government and public health guidelines in relation to protecting our staff and clients from COVID-19, HR Team is still operational as normal to fully support our clients throughout this difficult time. We are here to help you, when you need us.

Please contact HR Team via phone or email for specific legal advice.

HR Team will keep you updated on COVID-19 updates in NI, UK and ROI.