If you’re employed, the government has announced the job retention scheme which should offer some protection to your salary and job. This guide will look at how the job retention scheme works, your rights to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and what benefits you can claim if you’re not entitled to SSP.
Job Support Scheme
The current Job Retention Scheme (furlough) will end on 31 October 2020 and be replaced by the Job Support Scheme.
Whether or not you are currently furloughed, you don’t have to do anything. Your employer will tell you whether they are taking part in the Job Support Scheme.
To be eligible your job must be viable – this means there needs to be work available for you to do.
If you’re worried about redundancy then help is available. See our guides to your Redundancy rights
If you’re eligible and your employer has signed up to the scheme, from 1 November you can be asked to work a minimum of 20% of your hours, which will be paid for as usual by your employer.
If you’re on a higher salary, you might receive less as the government’s contribution is capped at £1,541.75 per month.
If you work part time, this will be based on the hours you would normally work and is still capped at £1,541.75 a month. So, as long as you are working at least a fifth of your normal hours, there should be no difference between how part-time and full-time employees are treated.
To be eligible, you must have been on your employer’s payroll system since at least 23 September 2020.
While your employer is claiming for part of your wages through the Job Support Scheme, you cannot be made redundant or put on notice.
How might the new Job Support Scheme work for me?
To illustrate this how this might look:
John works a 40-hour week and earns the national living wage of £8.72 per hour.
His employer has joined the Job Support Scheme and asks him to work 20% of his normal hours. That’s equivalent to 8 hours.
His employer will pay him as usual for all of those 8 hours. He’ll earn £69.76 per week.
John’s employer will also pay him for 1.6 hours (equivalent to 5% of his remaining hours, ie 32 hours). That’s £13.95 per week.
The government will also pay John for 19.73 hours (equivalent to 61.67% of his remaining hours, ie 32 hours). That’s £172.05 per week.
This means John will receive a total of £255.76 per week.
John will probably earn less money than he earned while on furlough.
Raj - Part time worker – 21 hours per week £15 per hour
Raj works a 21-hour week and earns £15.00 per hour.
His employer has joined the Job Support Scheme and asks him to work 20% of his normal hours. That’s equivalent to 4.2 hours.
His employer will pay him as usual for all of those 4.2 hours. He’ll earn £63.00 per week.
Raj’s employer will also pay him for 0.84 hours (equivalent to 5% of his remaining hours, ie 16.8 hours). That’s £12.60 per week.
The government will also pay Raj for 10.37 hours (equivalent to 61.67% of his remaining hours, ie 16.8 hours). That’s £155.55 per week.
This means Raj will receive a total of £231.15 per week.
Belinda - Higher earner – 35 hours per week £25 per hour (£45,500 per year)
Belinda works a 35-hour week and earns £25 per hour.
Her employer has joined the Job Support Scheme and asks her to work 20% of her normal hours. That’s equivalent to 7 hours.
Her employer will pay her as usual for all of those 7 hours. She’ll earn £175.00 per week.
Belinda’s employer will also pay her for 1.4 hours (equivalent to 5% of her remaining hours, ie 28 hours). That’s £35.00 per week.
Since Belinda is a high earner, the government will pay a maximum of £1,541.75 per month. That’s £385.44 per week.
This means Belinda will receive a total of £595.44 per week.
If your workplace is forced to close because of coronavirus restrictions after 31 October 2020
From 1 November 2020, if your place of work is legally required to shut because of local or national coronavirus restrictions, the government will pay two thirds (67%) of your salary, up to £2,100 a month.
Like the Job Support Scheme, this will run for six months, with a review in January 2021.
To be eligible for this payment, you must be off work for a minimum of seven consecutive days.
Your employer will not be required to make a contribution towards your wages but will have to cover your National Insurance Contributions and workplace pension contributions.
Your employer will be able to claim support through the HMRC claims service from early December 2020. Payments will be made in arrears to cover any periods you could not work from 1 November 2020.
The job retention scheme
This is a government scheme to pay your wages if your business is forced to temporarily close because of coronavirus. This scheme will ends on 31 October 2020.
This will be available to anyone on the PAYE scheme and your employer will need to contact HMRC to apply. In order for you to qualify, your employer will have to re-assign your employment status as a furloughed worker’.
The scheme will pay 80 percent of retained workers’ salaries, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated employer National Insurance Contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. Your employer can top up your salary to more than this if they choose to.
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If you’re returning from maternity or paternity leave you can still be furloughed, even after the 10 June deadline for final applications for government funding.
You cannot be asked to do any work for the company that furloughed you. However, if you have another job, or your contract allows you to take another job, you can continue to work and be paid by another company.
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Wages under the scheme will be backdated to 1 March and the scheme will be open until the end of October, with greater flexibility being introduced from the start of August. There is no limit on amount of funding and the government will pay grants to support as many jobs as necessary.
To be eligible, you must have started your employment by 19 March 2020. The first of the grants are hoped to be paid before the end of April so it could take a few weeks to get your money.
Changes to the job retention scheme from August
From August, you will continue to get 80% of your salary, up to £2,500, but your employer will have to start contributing as well as the government.
During August, your employer will start cover your National Insurance and pension contributions.
In September, the government will cover 70% of your salary up to £2,190 a month, with your employer making up the remaining 10%.
In October, the government will cover 60% of your salary up to £1,875 a month, with your employer making up the remaining 20%.
The scheme will end at the end of October.
If you’ve been furloughed and have not yet returned to work, you will be able to go back to work part time.
If my employer has already let me go
If you have already been told your job is gone, you should contact your employer to see if they are now willing to take you back on and reassign you as a furloughed worker.
If you have already made a claim for benefits contact the relevant benefit helpline for advice on what to do before you cancel your claim.
If you have already received a redundancy payment and your employer could now take you back on, speak to your employer or the ACAS helpline for advice on what to do.
Test and Trace Support Payment
From 28 September (24 September in Wales), if you’re told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace system, can’t work from home and are claiming:
- Universal Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Support
- Pension Credit
- Housing Benefit
You will be entitled to a payment of £500.
This payment will be made by your local authority, and is expected to be in place by 12 October 2020.
If you are told to self-isolate after 28 September, but before the scheme has been set up, payments will be backdated.
You will have to show proof of your employment to qualify and checks will be carried out to check you’re unable to work from home.
Am I entitled to sick pay?
Your rights to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) depend on your employment status and earnings.
If you’re an employee and earn more than £120 a week
If you’re an employee and earn at least £120 a week, you will be able to get £95.85 per week for up to 28 weeks. The government has announced SSP will be paid from the first day you are off sick if it is related to coronavirus.
SSP covers you both if you’re ill and if you need to self isolate because you have been in direct contact with the virus. You will still need to provide a sick note or fit note. You no longer have to go to a doctor to get a sick note or fit note. You can get one by calling NHS 111.
Some employers have more generous contractual sick pay schemes. It is worth checking your contract, staff handbook or with your employer.
If your employer refuses to pay you SSP
The government has said that it will bear the costs of SSP for smaller employers, so claiming it should not be a problem. If you do have a problem, contact the HM Revenue and Customs statutory payment dispute team:
Telephone: 03000 560 630
Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 5pm
Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm
Textphone: 0300 200 3212
Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm
If you’re an employee and earn less than £120 a week
If you’re employed but your earnings are too low to claim SSP, you may be able to claim Universal Credit if you have a low household income and you and your partner or spouse have savings of less than £16,000. You can do this online.
Don’t delay making a claim for benefits, even if you think you might have been affected by coronavirus.
However, if you are already getting any of these benefits being replaced by Universal Credit:
- Housing Benefit
- Tax Credits
- Income Support
- Employment and Support Allowance
and need to make a claim for Universal Credit because of coronavirus, check with the Citizens Advice Help to Claim service as soon as possible to find out how they might be affected and to get advice about your situation. If you’re in Scotland, visit the Citizens Advice Scotland website.
Find out more about coronavirus and your rights at work on the ACAS website
If you don’t want to go into work because of coronavirus
If you don’t want to travel or go into work because you’re worried about catching coronavirus your rights are more limited.
If you’re shielding in line with public health guidance because you’re classed as extremely vulnerable, your employer is allowed to furlough you, even if they still have work for you.
Employers are required to listen to your concerns and try and find a way to work around them. You might also be able to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave.
If you have caring responsibilities
If you’re unable to work because of childcare commitments, or you have to stay at home because someone you live with is classed as extremely vulnerable and you can’t work from home your employer can furlough you, even if there is work available.
You’re also entitled to take time off to care for a dependent. There are no rules around how much time you can take off and you should talk to your employers about your options. You might also be able to take time off as holiday leave.
Learn more about time off to care for a dependant on the ACAS website
You also have the right to ask for flexible working, such as reducing or altering your working hours, and time off in emergencies.
If your employer refuses to furlough you
There are several circumstances where your employer can furlough you, even if there is work still available. Your employer might not necessarily be aware of these and you should talk to them about these options.
If your employer is refusing to furlough you even if you have dependants with pre-existing conditions or extremely vulnerable, this might be a breach of your contract.
You might also be able to negotiate an arrangement with your employer for paid leave, or take the time as holiday leave.
It’s important you reach an agreement with your employer before deciding not to turn up to work, as this can be treated as an unauthorised absence.
If you’re worried about losing your job
Your redundancy pay is worked out using your normal salary, not the amount you’ve been getting while on furlough.
The government grants, which allow your employer to cover up to 80 percent of your salary up to £2,500 a month, should minimise the risk of losing your job.
If the company you work for has gone into administration, the administrators might be able to access the same government grant if they intend to keep the business open.
However, If you’re worried that you might be made redundant our Redundancy Handbook can help you prepare.
If you’re facing redundancy during your apprenticeship, the government has launched a new service which offers free advice and can help you find new opportunities. Find out more on the apprenticeships.gov.uk website.
Lay-offs and reduced hours
If you’ve been asked to take unpaid leave, and your contract allows you to be unpaid during this period, you might be able to claim Guarantee Pay.
You might also be able to claim new-style Jobseekers Allowance and, if you need help with other costs, Universal Credit.