The Lockdown Job Support Scheme
In a rapidly changing landscape, we could all be forgiven for struggling to keep up with the measures being put in place. Having recently announced details of the ‘successor’ to the furlough scheme the Treasury has now unveiled additional support for employers who are required to shut their businesses “for some period over winter as part of local or national restrictions.” Although the names are confusingly similar, there are now two distinct schemes. One applies countrywide, the other only applies to businesses in areas where there is a lockdown in force.
The announcement comes a fortnight after the government unveiled its Job Support Scheme, as a successor to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (known as Furlough), to top up the wages of staff who have not been able to return to the workplace full time. Changes introduced in the summer enabled staff to work part time and still receive some pay for hours they did not work. The Furlough scheme comes to an end on 31 October.
Under the Lockdown Job Support Scheme, from 1 November 2020, employers will be eligible for a grant of up to 67% of their employees’ wages (up to a maximum of £2,100 per month) for those staff who are unable to work for a minimum of 7 days. The Scheme is due to run for 6 months with a review taking place in January 2020. Employers will still be required to pay national insurance and pension contributions. HMRC have advised that the claim service will start on 1 December and that payments will be made one month in arrears.
The new Lockdown Job Support Scheme will only apply to businesses required to close by law, rather than those who choose to shut because of the broader impact of the coronavirus restrictions. We consider that this means that those organisations that, for example, provide services or goods to businesses forced to shut, will not be eligible to claim under the new Scheme.
Additionally, businesses which are required to close as a result of specific workplace outbreaks by local public health authorities, but which are not located in a wider ‘lockdown’ area, are not eligible for the scheme.
In contrast to the furlough scheme, employees cannot be made redundant, nor put on notice of redundancy during the period for which their employer is claiming the grant for them.
How does this interact with the new three tier system?
Tier one – medium alert
Employers will be able to claim under the Job Support Scheme (for viable jobs only) and not the lockdown job support scheme.
Tier two – high alert
People living in these areas are not allowed to mix socially indoors with those they do not live with. That includes in private homes, pubs or restaurants. However, businesses in those areas are not being forced to shut and only the Job Support Scheme is available to them, not the Lockdown Support Scheme.
Tier Three – very high alert
In these areas pubs and bars must close, unless they are serving substantial meals and only serving alcohol with meals. Gyms, leisure centres, betting shops and casinos must also close. For those businesses that are therefore required by law to close, they ae eligible to claim support for employee wages under the Lockdown Job Support Scheme. In addition, the Job Support Scheme may also be available for support with those jobs deemed ‘viable’ – you may recall our previous comments regarding the Job Support Scheme and whether employers are likely to take it up https://mitchelllaw.co.uk/job-support-scheme/
As ever, if you need support in establishing whether this scheme will assist your business please do get in touch.