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Coronavirus: changes to UK Job Support Scheme – key details for employers

We previously reported on the establishment of the Job Support Scheme (“JSS”).  The Chancellor of the Exchequer has, today, made a further announcement setting out significant changes to the JSS .  These changes are primarily aimed at providing support to businesses in Tier 2 which are not legally required to shut their premises as part of further lockdown measures, but which are suffering a significant decline in revenue.  However, the changes go even further than this.

Key details of the changes

The key details of the changes to scheme, which will apply to all of the UK, are as follows:

  • The JSS will apply to all businesses in every alert level (i.e. Tiers 1, 2 and 3).
  • Employees only need to work at least 20% of their normally working hours and be paid by their employer for those hours (not at least 33% of their normal working hours as originally required when the JSS was first announced).
  • Under the initial JSS announcement, for the hours not worked, the government and the employer were each required to pay one third of an employee’s salary. Following today’s announcement, the employer contribution will be reduced to just 5%.
  • The government will provide up to 61.67% of wages for hours not worked, up to £1,541.75 per month (more than doubling the maximum payment of £697.92 under the previous rules when the JSS was first announced).

In addition, the government is increasing support for self-employed individuals and implementing a new grant scheme

Coronavirus: UK Job Support Scheme – key details for employers

As we reported previously, on 12 May 2020 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”) would be extended until 31 October 2020.  With just over 5 weeks until the CJRS ends, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has, today, made an announcement setting out the government’s package of measures designed to protect UK jobs through the winter.

Job Support Scheme

With effect from 1 November 2020, the new Job Support Scheme (“JSS”) will come into force.  The key details of the JSS are as follows:

  • It is designed to support the wages of employees who are in viable jobs, but on shorter working hours.
  • Employees must work at least 1/3 of their normal working hours and be paid by their employer for those hours.
  • For the hours not worked, the government and the employer will each pay one third of an employee’s salary.
  • The level of grant will be calculated based on an employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month.
  • All small and medium enterprises are eligible to participate in the JSS.
  • Larger businesses, whose turnover has fallen as a result of coronavirus, are also eligible to participate in the JSS, subject to complying with certain conditions, including restrictions on capital distributions to their shareholders.
  • The JSS is open to all employers, including those who have not participated in the CJRS.
  • The JSS will remain in force for 6 months from 1 November 2020.
  • Employers will not be permitted to issue notices

Coronavirus: new UK restrictions – implications for employers

Amidst rising numbers of infections, the UK government has, today, made an announcement in relation to new Coronavirus restrictions.

Key highlights of the new restrictions

  • employees who can work from home should do so;
  • restaurants, bars and pubs must operate a table service only and must close at 10pm each day from 24 September 2020;
  • retail and hospitality staff will be required to wear face coverings;
  • retail, leisure and hospitality businesses are now legally required to ensure that their premises are COVID secure;
  • conferences and sporting events will not re-open from the beginning of October, as previously planned; and
  • tighter penalties will be applied, including fines of up to £10,000 for businesses which break COVID rules.

The above restrictions are anticipated to continue in place for the next 6 months.

Implications for employers

  • Plans to bring employees back to the office will need to be reconsidered in light of this announcement.
  • Employers operating in the leisure and hospitality sector will need to be mindful of the need to make changes to working hours and shift patterns.
  • These restrictions, combined with the cessation of the furlough scheme at the end of October 2020, may mean that employers will need to consider whether redundancies are necessary.

BCLP has assembled a COVID-19 Employment & Labor taskforce to assist clients with employment law issues across various jurisdictions. You can contact the taskforce at: COVID-19HRLabour&EmploymentIssues@bclplaw.com. You can also view other thought leadership, guidance, and helpful information on our dedicated COVID-19

UK HR Solutions: How to deal with sickness absence

Welcome to the next post in our weekly series of hands-on guidance for UK HR professionals. In this series we look at common HR issues that you’ll encounter in the workplace and give you practical guidance on how to deal with them. Over the course of the series we’re covering a variety of topics, such as how to handle grievances, disciplinaries, suspension, performance management and much more besides.

This week we look at how to deal with sickness absence.

Click here to read our sickness absence guidance note.

UK HR Solutions: Grievances and how to handle them

Welcome to the first in our new weekly series of hands-on guidance for UK HR professionals. In this series we look at common HR issues that you’ll encounter in the workplace and give you practical guidance on how to deal with them. In the forthcoming weeks we will cover a variety of topics, such as how to manage disciplinaries, suspensions, poor performance, sickness absence and much more besides.

In our first edition, we are looking at grievances. The way in which an employer handles a grievance has long term employee relations implications, in addition to potential legal liabilities.

Click here to read our step by step guide to grievances and how to handle them.

Coronavirus: the UK government’s Job Retention Bonus scheme – key points for employers

On 8 July 2020, we reported on the UK government’s Job Retention Bonus scheme.  The Job Retention Bonus Scheme (“JRBS“) is designed to incentivise employers to retain furloughed employees after the CJRS finishes at the end of October 2020. Employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed on 31 January 2021.

Today, the UK government has issued a policy paper providing more information in relation to the JRBS. The key details for employers to note are as follows:

  • All employers are eligible for the JRBS, including recruitment agencies and umbrella companies.
  • A new employer may be eligible to claim under the JRBS in respect of employees of a previous business who were transferred to the new employer if either TUPE applies, the PAYE business succession rules apply to the change in ownership, or there is a business transfer where TUPE would have applied if the company was not in compulsory liquidation.  To claim under the JRBS under these circumstances, the transferred employees must have been furloughed and successfully claimed for under the CJRS by their new employer. An employer will not be eligible for a bonus under the JRBS in respect of any employee transferred under TUPE or under the business succession rules after 31 October 2020.
  • Employers will be able to claim for employees who meet all of the following criteria:
    • were furloughed and had a CJRS claim submitted for them that meets all relevant eligibility criteria for that

Coronavirus: new detailed UK guidance on part-time furloughing and reduction in grants under the UK furlough scheme – implications for employers

The UK government has now released its detailed guidance to implement flexible furlough and gradually wind down the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”) to its expected end date of 31 October 2020.

Key highlights of the new flexible furlough regime and winding down payments

From 1 July 2020, employers can bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim a CJRS grant for the hours not worked. Some of the key aspects of the flexible furloughing regime are set out below:

  • Employers will still be able to claim the CJRS grant for the hours that its employees are flexibly furloughed (that is, not working), compared to the hours they would normally have worked in that period.
  • The existing three week minimum furlough period will be removed. CJRS claims made via the online portal will, however, need to be for a minimum period of one week.
  • Wage caps will be proportional to the hours an employee is furloughed. For example, an employee is entitled to 60% of the £2,500 cap if they are placed on furlough for 60% of their usual hours.
  • Save for employees returning from family leave:
    • employers will only be able to claim for employees who have previously been furloughed for at least 3 consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020; and
    • the number of employees an employer can claim for in any claim period starting

Coronavirus: UK Furlough Scheme – timeline of key dates including collective consultation triggers

The UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”) is evolving and winding down. In addition to knowing when these changes take effect, UK employers need to bear in mind the risk that they may also trigger collective consultation obligations. Set out below are some key dates for UK employers to bear in mind:

10 June 2020: furlough claims can only be made in respect of employees who have been registered under the scheme by this date.

16 June 2020: ‘cliff-edge’ date for conducting minimum 45 days collective consultation prior to any changes from 1 August 2020.

30 June 2020: employers will not be able to put additional employees on furlough.

1 July 2020: part-time furloughing is permitted.

1 August 2020: employers will have to pay employer National Insurance contributions and employer pension auto enrolment contributions for furloughed employees.

1 September 2020: employers must contribute 10% towards the pay of furloughed employees.

15 September 2020: ‘cliff-edge’ date for conducting minimum 45 days collective consultation prior to the end of the CJRS on 31 October 2020.

1 October 2020: employers must contribute 20% towards the pay of furloughed employees.

31 October 2020: the CJRS ends.

BCLP has assembled a COVID-19 Employment & Labor taskforce to assist clients with employment law issues across various jurisdictions. You can contact the taskforce at: COVID-19HRLabour&EmploymentIssues@bclplaw.com. You can also view other thought leadership, guidance, and helpful information on our dedicated COVID-19 / Coronavirus resources page at https://www.bclplaw.com/en-GB/topics/covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-resources.html

COVID-19 redundancy issues: HR frequently asked questions in multiple jurisdictions

Summary

We understand that our clients and contacts will be addressing complex redundancy issues related to COVID-19 in multiple jurisdictions. BCLP, together with our local counsel friends, have produced a global Q&A document covering 40 jurisdictions. We cover questions around dismissals, compensation, collective consultation and alternatives to redundancy.

Please download our global Q&A document here.

The document covers the following questions:

  • Is there any legislation, order or mandate prohibiting an employer from dismissing an employee in circumstances where the employer has obtained the benefit of Coronavirus government support?
  • Does an employee with a qualifying period of employment have any statutory protection against redundancy dismissal?
  • What redundancy compensation is payable to an employee who is dismissed by reason of redundancy?
  • Should an employer take into consideration a Coronavirus government support scheme before dismissing an employee?
  • Are employers subject to separate collective consultation obligations?
  • If an employer is subject to collective consultation obligations, is there any defence for a failure to comply?
  • If an employer is subject to collective consultation obligations, what is the sanction for a failure to comply?
  • What alternatives to redundancy dismissal are open to an employer?

Coronavirus – UK furlough scheme changes increase employer costs and may trigger collective consultation

Today, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, made a long awaited statement setting out further details of the changes to the UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the “CJRS”). He confirmed that progressively with effect from 30 June 2020 until the cessation of the CJRS on 31 October 2020 the following changes will be made:

  • From 30 June 2020: employers will not be able to put additional employees on furlough under the CJRS – employers can only make furlough claims in respect of those who have already been registered under the scheme as at 10 June 2020.
  • From 1 July 2020: employers may take employees off furlough to work part-time. Employers will be responsible for remuneration costs related to any period of part-time work, with CJRS grants continuing to fund the period when the employees are not working part-time.
  • From 1 August 2020: employers will have to pay the related employer National Insurance contributions and employer pension auto enrolment contributions.
  • From 1 September 2020: employers must contribute 10% towards the pay of furloughed employees, with the government grant reduced to 70%. The 80% furlough pay will continue to be capped at £2,500 per month.
  • From 1 October 2020: employers must contribute 20% towards the pay of furloughed employees, with the government grant reduced to 60%. The 80% furlough pay will continue to be capped at £2,500 per month.

With the above changes in mind, employers need to make early assessments as to whether, and if so how,

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