Job Support Scheme (JSS) and self-isolation

As we face the brink of a second wave, the Chancellor announced headline details of the government’s Job Support Scheme on 24 September. Here’s what we know about the scheme so far.  

We also highlight new regulations introduced in England on 27 September that bring in penalties for employers who allow workers to continue to work when they are required to self-isolate.  

Job Support Scheme (JSS)
The JSS provides a limited amount of government support to employers following the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) at the end of October. 

Detailed guidance has yet to be published and as we have learned from the CJRS, it is this subsequent detail that requires careful scrutiny. To date, what we know is: 

  • The JSS is designed to protect viable jobs in businesses facing lower demand due to COVID-19, to help keep employees attached to the workforce.
  • It will start on 1 November and run for six months.
  • The JSS grant applies to employers putting staff on to short-time working, subject to staff working a minimum of one third of their contractual hours.
  • Employers will continue to pay employees for time worked, but the cost of hours not worked will be split between the employer, the government and the employee (through a wage reduction).
  • The government will pay a third of hours not worked up to a cap, with the employer also contributing a third. This will ensure employees earn a minimum of 77% of their normal wages, where the government contribution has not been capped.

Self-isolation
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force in England on Sunday 27 September. The regulations set out mandatory periods for self-isolation, and a duty to notify the Secretary of State of the names of people in the same household as anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

The regulations mean that if an employer knows a worker (including an agency worker) has tested positive for COVID-19 (or lives with someone who has tested positive), the employer is now responsible for stopping the worker from working (unless they can work from home). Any employer who fails to do so will face a fine, starting at £1,000.

The regulations also place an obligation on the worker to tell their employer that they are self-isolating and if they then breach self-isolation, they will be committing a separate criminal offence.

FAQs

The government grant will cover one third of the wage cost for the hours not worked, subject to a cap of £697.92 a month. The employer also pays a third of these non-worked hours. The grant will not cover NI or pension contributions.

For the first three months of the scheme, the employee must work at least 33% of their usual hours. After three months, the government will consider whether to increase this minimum hours threshold.

Employers can only claim for employees who have been on the Real Time Information (RTI) submission on or before 23 September 2020.
This will include those on family leave.

Yes, provided that each short-time working arrangement covers at least seven days. Employees will be able to cycle on and off the scheme and do not have to be working the same pattern each month.

The factsheet notes that employees cannot be made redundant or put on notice of redundancy during the period within which their employer is claiming the grant for that employee. There is nothing to indicate that redundancy consultation cannot take place during this time but we are waiting for the details of the scheme to be published before confirming this.

Yes, the JSS is a separate scheme and the Job Retention Bonus remains unaffected.

The CJRS guidance noted employers in receipt of public funding for staff costs were not expected to use the CJRS. There is no such distinction, so far, within the JSS.

The initial factsheet states that 'all employers with a UK bank account and UK PAYE schemes can claim the grant' with large businesses having to meet a financial assessment test.