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The new Job Support Scheme - Your questions answered

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The Job Support Scheme (JSS), which was due to commence on 1 November 2020, has been postponed until the furlough scheme ends. New guidance on the JSS was published on 30 October 2020, but this was marked as withdrawn on 1 November 2020 because of the extension to the CJRS. Until new guidance plus a new Treasury Direction applicable to the extended CJRS gets released, there will be no other additional information.

Which employees are eligible for JSS?

Employees who have been on the PAYE payroll on or before 23 September 2020 are eligible for the JSS. They must also work at least 33% of their usual hours.

Can only businesses who furloughed employees use the JSS?

No, the JSS scheme may be used by employers even if they did not take advantage of the furlough scheme. Also, employees do not need to have been furloughed to be eligible for the JSS. As a result, the JSS is open to employees who have continued to work throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but who have been working reduced hours.

What if employees are unable to work 33% of their regular hours because there is no work?

If an employer does not have enough work available to give an employee 33% of their usual working hours, they will not be eligible for the JSS. This element of the JSS has been highly criticised. It is also not clear whether the 33% applies to an average over a month or over a more extended period of time.

Employees can cycle on and off the JSS according to the government factsheet, but each working period must cover a minimum of seven days.

If employees enter the scheme, does the employer need to guarantee they will not be made redundant for six months?

There will be no ban on redundancies during the six months of the JSS. The government factsheet outlines that employees may not be made redundant or given notice of redundancy while they are in the JSS. However, employers can move an employee out of the JSS and make them redundant.

Can employees take a holiday while in the JSS?

It is unclear whether holidays will form part of the 33% minimum working hours requirement, or whether they will be regarded as unworked hours. In certain circumstances, employers may be required to ‘top-up’ holiday pay to ensure that employees are receiving the pay they are entitled to. 

What if an employee has to take time off sick or self-isolate? 

Employees who need to take time off sick will be entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP). However, it is not yet clear how JSS will be affected by time off sick.