As if things weren’t complicated enough, we now have the Expanded Job Support Scheme (or as some people are referring to it, Furlough Version 2). This has added a further layer of complexity regarding eligibility because it was only announced a short while after the original JSS (see https://cheringtonhr.com/news/617
) was made public and we were told that it would be the successor to Furlough and come into force on 1st November. So, what’s the difference?
The main one is that the Expanded version is only applicable to those businesses who will be legally forced to close over the winter months as a direct result of the Covid-19 restrictions. It is being introduced to increase the government’s contribution to employee wage costs from a maximum of 22% under the original JSS to 67% of an employee’s normal pay, up to a limit of £2,100 per month for any period of a compulsory shutdown. It will apply to England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Employers will continue to be responsible for paying National Insurance and pension contributions as at present.
Like the JSS, it will follow the furlough payments when they end at the end of October and will run from 1st November 2020 to 30th April 2021 (but there will be a review of the scheme in January). As with the other JSS scheme, the Expanded one will involve employers making claims through a portal which will open in December 2021, but if you run a business that is forced to close in October because you are subject to the new restrictions being imposed, the government has indicated that you will be able to claim.
To qualify, employees must be off work for a minimum of 7 consecutive calendar days and must agree to cease work completely during any claim period. Such employees cannot be under notice of redundancy or made redundant during a claim period.
The Expanded JSS will apply only to businesses that are, “legally required to close,” as a, “direct result of COVID restrictions.” This means that it will include businesses that remain open, but which are legally required to change their offering (for example restaurants restricted to delivery or collection only services rather than in-house dining).
If you run a business that closes due to reduced demand, when you are not legally compelled to do so, will not be eligible. Neither will any business ordered to close because of a specific workplace COVID outbreak.
If the region you are in has a lifting of restrictions and your business is allowed to reopen, you must switch back to the original JSS instead if you need to continue to claim.
If you are still wanting to claim the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Bonus at the end of January, it seems that any sums claimed under the JSS or the Expanded JSS will count to wards the minimum pay requirement needed to be eligible. See https://cheringtonhr.com/news/605
for information on the Bonus scheme and https://bit.ly/2Ft4M7X
for the government’s factsheet on the Expanded JSS. No doubt HMRC will produce more details on the claims process before their portal opens in December.