HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has published further details of the Job Support Scheme Open (JSS Open), announced by the Chancellor during his Winter Economy Statement in Parliament on 24 October and expanded upon in his later announcement in Parliament to support the new tiered COVID-19 approach.
The JSS Open is intended to support businesses facing reduced demand over the winter as a result of the Coronavirus crisis, helping to keep employees in ‘viable’ jobs on short-time working.
The scheme will launch on 1 November 2020 – the day after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) closes – and will run for six months until the end of April 2021.
It will be open to all SMEs, but will only be available to large businesses that can show that they have been adversely affected by the Coronavirus crisis through reduced revenues. Large businesses will be expected not to make capital distributions, including dividends or share buybacks, while using the JSS.
Employees claimed for through the JSS must have been on an employer’s PAYE payroll on 23 September 2020, meaning their employer must have included them on an RTI submission on or before that date.
They cannot be on notice of redundancy or be made redundant while in receipt of the JSS.
Employees must work at least 20 per cent of their usual hours and be paid in full for those hours by their employer.
The employer must also then pay for five per cent of the hours not worked, while the Government will make a subsidised payment equal to 61.67 per cent of the hours not worked – up to a cap of £1,541.75 a month.
Employees will then forego pay for the rest of the usual hours that they are not working. This means they will be paid at least 73 per cent of their usual wages, where they earn £3,125 a month or less, even if they are only working 20 per cent of their usual hours.
Employers will need to agree short-time working arrangements with staff affected and make any necessary changes to contracts of employment, with documents made available to HMRC on request.
HMRC says that it intends to notify employees directly with full details of the claims made in respect of them.
Alongside the JSS Open, the Government has announced the JSS Closed scheme for businesses legally required to close as a result of Coronavirus restrictions, which covers around two-thirds of an employee’s wage.