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Published 2 November 2020
The Government like to keep us on our toes. On Friday evening it published 11 sets of Guidance for the Job Support Scheme (JSS), which was due to come into force yesterday (1 November). Just as employers were getting to grips with JSS, on Saturday, as it announced a new English lockdown from 5 November, it announced that the introduction of the JSS would be postponed. Instead the furlough scheme, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which was due to end on 31 October will be extended for a further month.
HM Treasury issued a press release on 31 October and intends to issue further Guidance on the extended CJRS before 5 November, however, this is what we know so far:
Calculations and operation of the scheme:
Clinically extremely vulnerable employees:
Clinically extremely vulnerable employees were required to shield during the first national lockdown. If they were unable to work from home, the employer was able to furlough them. However, from 1 August 2020, such employees were told they were able to return to work where they could not work from home (provided that their workplace was Covid-secure and they were offered the safest available role so they could maintain social distancing).
The new Guidance on the national restrictions from 5 November reverses this position. Clinically extremely vulnerable employees are “advised” to work from home over the period of lockdown. If the employee cannot work from home the Guidance says that such employees are now advised not go to work and may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay or Employment Support Allowance. We would expect that such employees can also be furloughed under the extended furlough scheme as before, however, this is currently unclear. We expect fuller details on this in future Guidance.
What does this mean for employers?:
Whilst the extension of the furlough scheme on a more generous basis will be welcomed by employers, the last minute announcement will mean many employers will have already made redundancies in anticipation of the scheme ending. It is unclear at this stage whether employers will have flexibility to re-engage those who have recently been made redundant.
As with previous versions of the CJRS, employers will need to have employee agreement to furlough employees and use the scheme. For those employees who were furloughed in October employers should still clearly set out the figures and working arrangements relevant to the new extension and obtain employee agreement. Some businesses may have already put in place JSS agreements in anticipation of the closure of the CJRS and the launch of the JSS on 1 November. Those businesses should contact affected employees as soon as possible to ask them to agree to continue on furlough under the extended scheme instead.
We have advise extensively on the CJRS and JSS and therefore can assist clients with the practicalities of the new lockdown. Please contact Louise Bloomfield or your usual DAC Beachcroft contact.
+44 (0) 113 251 4717
+44 (0) 161 934 3179
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