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Coronavirus Job Support Scheme – FAQs for employers

04 November 2020

These FAQs explain how the government’s proposed Job Support Scheme would have worked if it had been introduced in November 2020 as originally planned.

Before the government took a last-minute decision to extend the furlough scheme it planned to introduce a different scheme called the Job Support Scheme (JSS). The JSS was originally going to be introduced from 1 November 2020. Instead of introducing the JSS, the government decided to extend the furlough scheme until the end of March 2021 (see our FAQs on the furlough scheme for more detail). The JSS is therefore postponed. However, it may still be introduced from April 2021 after the extended furlough scheme closes.

Shortly before it decided to postpone the JSS in favour of extending the furlough scheme, the government published detailed guidance on how the JSS was going to work. The JSS would have  comprised two wage support schemes – JSS Open (for businesses operating but where employees are working at least 20% of their usual hours) and JSS Closed (where the business is legally required to close its premises and so employees have no work to do at all). The detailed guidance about the operation of JSS Open and JSS Closed has been withdrawn, although it currently remains available on the Gov.uk website.

We prepared the FAQs below on the basis of the (now withdrawn) guidance. They should now be read only as a guide to how the JSS could work if it is introduced next year. The dates for assessing the financial impact of Covid-19 on your business, deciding which employees are eligible and  how to calculate pay and hours would almost certainly be updated before the JSS is launched.

Eligibility for the JSS explained

Which employers can use the scheme?

The JSS can be used by all employers with eligible employees, a UK bank account and a UK PAYE scheme (with the exception of fully publicly funded bodies).

JSS Closed applies to all employers who are legally required to close, without having to show that closure has had any particular level of financial impact. 

JSS Open, however, is only available to employers who are experiencing reduced business activity because of Covid. Large employers must show this by meeting a financial impact test. SMEs will not have to meet a specific financial impact test but, when submitting their claim, may be asked to make a formal declaration that they are experiencing a reduced demand due to coronavirus. Although they are not required to do so, SMEs may want to do the financial impact test anyway (see below).

Administrators are also able to use the JSS but with the expectation that there is a reasonable likelihood of retaining the workers claimed for.

What’s the definition of a large employer for these purposes?

A large employer is defined as a legal entity with 250 or more employees across its payrolls as of 23 September 2020. Charities (registered or those exempt from registration) with 250 or more employees do not count as a large employer and can use the scheme without demonstrating a financial impact.

How do we do a financial impact test?

The financial impact test is a simple VAT test and is relatively employer-friendly. It depends on how often you file VAT returns. The total sales figure for 2020 must be the same or less than your 2019 figure to pass the test.

Quarterly VAT returns: Compare the total sales figure on the return (box 6) between 31 August 2020 and 7 November 2020 with the same quarter in 2019.

Monthly VAT returns: Add up the total sales figure on the return (box 6) from the past three consecutive months (with the latest due to be filed and paid by 7 November 2020) with the same period in 2019.

Infrequent VAT returns: You must submit a VAT return by 7 November 2020. Add the total sales figure for three consecutive months of your VAT returns ending with the return filing date of 31 August 2020 to 7 November 2020 and compare with the same period in 2019. Where there are no consecutive VAT returns, the guidance explains how to apportion.

Where a large employer is part of a VAT group, turnover figures for the whole group should be used. In practice, this means that most companies will need to assess financial impact on a group-wide basis. 

Large employers who are not VAT registered need to calculate their average monthly turnover between 1 May 2020 to 30 September 2020. This figure should then be compared to the average monthly turnover calculated from the most recent Company Tax or Income Tax self-assessment return.

Note that you do not have to show that your turnover has dropped significantly – even a minor drop or no drop at all is enough, so long as turnover has not improved.

SMEs are not required to pass the financial impact test, but it seems that they will nonetheless have to make a declaration that their business has been adversely impacted. It may therefore be sensible for SMEs to consider whether they would pass the financial impact test, assuming their VAT returns are readily accessible. Remember that HMRC will have access to these figures and, in the unlikely event your VAT returns in fact show that your turnover is increasing, it could well challenge your declaration that your business has been adversely affected.

Which employees can we put on the scheme?

According to the current guidance, to be eligible for JSS Open or JSS Closed, employees must have been on your PAYE payroll on or before 23 September 2020. This means that a Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying payment to that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 23 September 2020.

It is possible to claim in respect of an employee whose employment ended after 23 September and who has since been rehired.

Under JSS Open, the employee must work at least 20% of their usual hours. The government has said that it may increase the minimum hours threshold in February 2021. Under JSS Closed, the employee must have stopped work as a result of local or national restrictions.

The guidance confirms that an employer can use both the JSS Open and Closed schemes at the same time, provided they are claiming for different employees. The guidance envisages this will assist employers who have multiple premises subject to different restrictions, or where premises are closed but some employees are still able to work.

What about other workers who are not employees?

The guidance confirms that you can use both schemes for anyone who is treated as an employee for tax purposes (including office-holders, salaried members of LLPs, agency workers and people who you regard as having “worker” status rather than “employee” status for employment rights purposes, as long as they are paid via PAYE).

What agreements do we need in place?

Written JSS agreements must be in place before the first day claimed for under the relevant JSS scheme. Details of what is required are set out separately for each scheme below.

Does the employee need to have been furloughed to be put on the JSS?

No. The JSS is open to employers even if they have not previously used the furlough scheme and employees do not necessarily have to have been furloughed in order to be put into the JSS Open or JSS Closed.

What if there’s just no work at all for some employees but we are not legally required to close?

The minimum hours requirement is a key component of JSS Open. If you don’t have enough work to provide even 20% of an employee’s usual hours, you will not be able to put them into JSS Open. If you are not legally required to close, you will not be able to use JSS Closed.

This has led to criticism of the scheme from industries such as live entertainment and sport, where jobs may be perfectly viable in the long run but in the short term due to Covid restrictions there is simply no work. Other possible resourcing arrangements are covered below.

Can we claim the £1,000 job retention bonus while also claiming under the JSS?

Yes. You can claim your £1,000 bonus for bringing a furloughed employee back to work in addition to claiming ongoing support for that employee under the JSS. See our article on the job retention bonus scheme for details of how the bonus works. To qualify for the bonus, under the current rules, the employee would need to remain continuously employed through to the end of January 2021 and earn at least £1,560 (gross) during that period. Grants from the JSS will count towards meeting the earnings threshold.

It is possible that the job retention bonus scheme will be changed to reflect the extension of the furlough scheme.

Is it true that we can’t pay dividends to shareholders while claiming under the JSS?

The details released so far state that the government “expects” that large employers will not make capital distributions (such as dividends or equivalent for partnerships) while using the scheme. The government has said that it will not make this a binding condition of the scheme but will instead “encourage business to reflect on their responsibilities and that tax payers should be able to rely on public money only being claimed where it is clearly needed”.

Will the government be publishing a list of who claims the grants?

Yes. HMRC will publish details of employers who have made claims and may publish the amounts. This seems to be preparatory to asking employees and the public to check up on businesses to ensure that they are operating within the law and, perhaps, also within the spirit of the law. This suggests that the government will be encouraging “naming and shaming” of employers who make fraudulent or just unnecessary claims.

How JSS Open works in practice

What does the grant cover?

For every hour not worked by the employee, they will be paid a total of 66.67% of their usual hourly wage, up to a cap.

Who pays what under the scheme?

Our infographic provides an at-a-glance summary of how JSS Open will work. The idea is that employees working at least 20% of their usual hours can have their pay topped up.

The unworked time is essentially split into three. The employer pays for 5% of the unworked time (up to a cap of £125 per month), the government pays for 61.67% of the unworked time (up to a cap of £1,541.75 per month) and the remaining unworked time is unpaid unless the employer chooses to top it up (see below).

This means that an employee working the minimum 20% of their usual hours would receive 73% of their normal pay unless their normal pay exceeds £3,125 per month. Normal pay is based on the employee’s “reference salary” – see below.

What about National Insurance Contributions and employer pension contributions?

The grant will not cover Class 1 Employer NICS or pension contributions, although the employer will need to pay these contributions in respect of both the government top-up and the employer top-up, as well as in respect of pay for hours actually worked.

Does the employer top-up mean we are paying extra for reduced work?

Yes. Employers need to pay an additional 5% towards unworked hours. There will also be pension and national insurance payments on top of this – see above.

We can’t afford the 5% top-up - what are the options?

The employer contribution is a key component of the scheme, so if you will not be able to afford this you will need to look at other options – for example, agreeing a reduced working week without the extra financial support, or redundancies. We look at alternative options in more detail below.

Can we offer extra voluntary top-ups?

Yes. Employers can top up wages above the 5% contribution if they wish to do so.

We have some work but we don’t think we can guarantee 20% of usual hours every week – can we still use JSS Open?

Yes. If the employee’s working hours drop below 20% of usual hours while on JSS Open, the employer has the option to “disregard” some days and not make any claim for them, effectively taking the employee out of the scheme temporarily for those unclaimed days. However, each remaining day must be part of a “block” of at least seven consecutive JSS Open days or JSS Closed days.

You should make sure that you agree with an employee what would happen to their pay on any days when you are not able to submit a JSS claim for them because, without agreement to the contrary, employees would be entitled to full pay. 

We can find some work, but it won’t be the employee’s usual work – does that matter?

There is no requirement for employees to be doing their usual or contractual duties during the hours they are working while on the JSS Open scheme. The employer can decide what activities count as work. This gives the employer a lot of flexibility to move employees onto temporary new duties or ask them to undertake training. Any variation (or temporary variation) to their contractual terms should be agreed with the employee.

What should we include in a JSS Open temporary working agreement?

The JSS agreement needs to explain that the employee is being put into the JSS Open scheme. The agreement needs to cover the reduced hours that the employee will be working, the extra top-up pay they will receive through the scheme, what happens in respect of the unworked hours that are not covered by the top-up and the arrangements for moving the employee out of the JSS if necessary. The JSS agreement needs to last for at least seven days and be in place before the first day for which you claim under the scheme.

The government said it would publish a checklist to help employers prepare, although this will not be mandatory and employers are free to draw up their own agreements.

What payments should we include in an employee’s “reference salary”?

In a similar way to the furlough scheme, an employee’s “reference salary” consists of the regular payments they are obliged to receive, including:

  • regular wages
  • non-discretionary pay for hours worked
  • non-discretionary commission payments
  • non-discretionary fees
  • piece-rate payments.

Payments not included are those made without a contractual obligation or by discretion such as tips, discretionary bonuses and commission payments, non-cash payments and non-monetary benefits in kind.

How do we calculate an employee’s reference salary?

This depends on whether they receive fixed or variable pay:

Fixed: The greater of the wages paid in the last pay period ending on or before 23 September 2020 or the last pay period ending on or before 19 March 2020. 

Variable: The greater of the wages earned in the same calendar period in the tax year 2019-2020, the average wages payable in the 19/20 tax year or the average wages payable from 1 February 2020 (or start date if later) until 23 September 2020.

The maximum salary that can be taken into account when calculating entitlement for the JSS is £37,500 per year.

HMRC have provided detailed examples covering different scenarios for calculating reference salaries.

How do we calculate “usual hours”?

Fixed: if your employee does not work variable hours, their usual hours are the higher of their contracted hours at the end of the last pay period ending on or before 19 March 2020 or their contracted hours at the end of the last pay period ending on or before 23 September 2020.

Variable: An employee works variable hours for the purposes of calculations under the JSS where they don’t have a contract with fixed hours, or their pay varies depending on the number of hours worked. Their usual hours are the greater of the number of hours worked in the same calendar period in the 19/20 tax year, the average number of hours worked in the 19/20 tax year or the average number of hours worked from 1 February 2020 (or start date if later) until 23 September 2020.

HMRC have provided detailed examples covering different scenarios for working out usual hours.

Since eligibility for JSS Open depends on the employee working a minimum 20% of usual hours, employers will have to make careful calculations in advance of any claim period and may need to adjust working schedules to ensure that employees stay above the 20% threshold. This may be particularly burdensome for employees with variable hours. If it is arguable that there was not significant variation in hours, employers may find it easier to designate employees as having fixed hours.

The guidance says that HMRC will not decline a grant based solely on the choice between a fixed or variable approach, so long as a reasonable choice was made. But if overtime made a big difference to hours worked, that may not be a reasonable approach. In any case, employers will need to be careful about what is agreed with employees to minimise the risk of them claiming that the employer should have claimed more for them.

How do we calculate hours not worked?

Work out the employee’s usual hours for the period covered by the JSS Open agreement and subtract the number of hours actually worked.

HMRC have provided an example calculation to help calculate unworked hours.

Can we agree a different working pattern each week?

Yes. Calculations released by HMRC provide guidance on how to claim for a different amount of unworked hours each week, subject to the employee working at least 20% of their usual hours.

HRMC have provided detailed examples covering different scenarios for calculating an employee’s working time percentage.

What about training?

Hours spent in training and paid for by the employer at full pay can count towards the 20% worked hours for JSS Open. Training can also be carried out during unworked hours provided the employee is not providing services or generating revenue for their employer or an associated company. Any time spent training during “not-worked hours” should be paid at least at the minimum wage.

How do we calculate how much to claim?

HMRC have provided detailed step-by-step calculations to assist employers in calculating their claim for each employee. They are also expected to produce a calculator.

Can we agree reduced pay for employees working 20% of their usual hours?

Yes, provided at least minimum wage rates are paid for all hours worked or treated as worked. That would mean that working hours would be paid at the new reduced rate, while the grant payment for unworked hours would be based on the previous higher rate

What about Covid-vulnerable employees who say it’s not safe for them to come back to the workplace at all?

It is not clear how many employees there are who are currently on full furlough who feel unable to return because they are Covid-vulnerable or someone they live with is Covid-vulnerable. The 20% minimum hours requirement is a must for JSS Open, which will be an issue for these employees if they cannot work from home. This may generate disputes about whether it is safe for those employees to come back to work, but many may feel they have little choice.

Employers should make sure that the workplace is Covid-secure and they have carried out a thorough risk assessment that addresses the risks to such employees. If you have taken all reasonably practicable steps to reduce the risk to an acceptable level and the employee is still unwilling to return, you could consider a period of unpaid leave as an alternative to JSS Open, or redundancy. Potentially, you could take the view that this is not a redundancy situation but rather a failure by the employee to obey reasonable instructions, although there may be some risks with taking that approach depending upon the employee’s circumstances. For a more detailed discussion of this issue, see our FAQs on staffing decisions when reopening workplaces.

How JSS Closed works in practice

What does it mean to be legally required to close?

JSS Closed covers businesses that are legally required to close their premises as a result of restrictions by one of the four UK national governments. This includes premises that have been limited to delivery or collection-only services and those restricted to provision of food and/or drink outdoors. But it does not include businesses that are required to close for some other reason, such as those required to close by local public health authorities as a result of specific workplace outbreaks. It will also not cover businesses if they decide to voluntarily close because their trade is significantly affected or they experience very reduced demand.

What if part of our premises is required to close (e.g. a hotel gym) but other parts remain open?

The guidance states that employers “may” be able to claim for those employees who usually work in the closed part of the business and that further eligibility conditions will be published.

Which employees will be eligible?

Subject to other JSS criteria outlined above, employees will be eligible if their primary workplace is at the premises that have been legally required to close. An employee’s primary workplace is defined as the place that you would have expected your employee to spend at least 60% of their working hours during the period you are claiming for. If an employee works at multiple workplaces, they will be eligible if enough of their workplaces have been closed so as to prevent them spending 60% of their combined time at their expected workplaces.

This may throw up difficult issues with employees who divide their working hours between closed and open premises or who spend a lot of time out of the premises (e.g. doing sales, deliveries or at clients’ premises).

The employee must not complete any work during the period you are claiming for under JSS Closed whatsoever.

How long must the employee cease work?

Employees must be instructed to and cease work for a minimum of seven consecutive days for each JSS Closed temporary working agreement they are given. If an employee does not stop work for the minimum period, the employer cannot claim for any days that were covered by the agreement. If the business premises are allowed to open again, this rule does not apply. This means that the agreement can end early with the employer being able to claim for the period up until the business was allowed to re-open.

What should we cover in a JSS Closed temporary working agreement?

The JSS agreement needs to explain that the employee is being put into the JSS Closed scheme You will need to agree that the employee will stop work altogether for the period you are claiming for, which must be for a minimum period of seven consecutive days. Employees can be placed on a JSS Closed temporary working agreement multiple times, but each separate instance must be for a minimum period of seven consecutive days

The JSS agreement needs to be in place before the first day you claim for under the scheme.

The government has said that it will publish a checklist to help employers prepare agreements, although this will not be mandatory and employers will be free to draw up their own agreements.

Can we agree a JSS Closed agreement in advance?

Yes. The guidance is clear that the agreement can be set out in advance of any legally required closure. Employers in sectors that are likely to be forced to close in the event of stringent restrictions may wish to put conditional agreements in place with employees now, given that written agreements must be in place before the agreement can start.

What if employees can do other work or work from home?

Employers can only use the scheme for employees who cannot work (paid or unpaid) for that employer. This suggests that if you can transfer them to other work or require them to work from home, you should do so rather than claiming under the scheme.

What about training?

Training can be carried out on JSS Closed days provided the employee is not providing services or generating revenue for their employer or associated company. Any time spent training should be paid at least at the minimum wage.

What do employees receive under the JSS Closed scheme?

The grant available from the government covers 66.67% of the employee’s reference salary up to a cap of £2,083.33 per month. The reference salary is calculated in the same way as for JSS Open (see above). However, if you are claiming under JSS Closed, you don’t need to calculate usual and unworked hours.

What about National Insurance Contributions and employer pension contributions?

The grant will not cover Class 1 Employer NICS or automatic enrolment pension contributions, although these contributions will remain payable by the employer.

Can we offer extra voluntary top-ups?

Yes.

Holidays, sickness and family leave under the JSS

What if the employee takes holiday?

Employees can take holiday while under JSS Open and JSS Closed agreements. They will also continue to accrue annual leave while under either arrangement.

If holidays are taken during the agreed working hours under a JSS Open arrangement they will count as working time, meaning no grant can be claimed in respect of those days and the employer should pay them as normal.

A JSS grant can be claimed when holiday is taken during “unworked” hours under JSS Open and JSS Closed.

Statutory holiday must meet minimum statutory requirements under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR), which means employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ holiday per holiday year, paid at a rate reflecting their “normal remuneration”. Employers must “top up” any grant payment for statutory holiday, if it would otherwise be less than the employees’ normal remuneration.

If employees have additional contractual holiday entitlement in excess of the statutory minimum, they could agree with employees that this portion of holiday entitlement will be paid at the reduced “JSS” grant rate, so that employers do not have to top it up. Employees could also agree to waive any entitlement to additional contractual holiday.

Employers can require employees either to take or not to take holiday, using the notice mechanism in the WTR (or contract if that sets out alternative arrangements). Workers can carry over up to four weeks of annual leave if it was not “reasonably practicable” for them to take it as a result of coronavirus.

What employers choose to do about holidays will depend upon whether they are more concerned about employees continuing to accrue large amounts of holiday and perhaps carrying it over into the following leave year, or whether they would struggle to “top up” holiday pay to meet WTR requirements. Whether they require employees to do essential work at a certain time may also be a consideration.

Employers should take advice about holiday to work out the correct approach for their situation.

What if the employee is sick or under official instruction to self-isolate?

Employees who fall sick while on JSS Open or JSS Closed would be entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) (or contractual sick pay if that contractual agreement has not been varied). The employer cannot claim under JSS Open or JSS Closed for days when the employee is on SSP-related leave.

It is not clear if sickness counts towards the required 20% working time for the purposes of the JSS Open scheme. The guidance is clear that holidays can count towards working time but is silent on sickness. If sickness does not count towards working time, it could mean that periods of sickness result in the employee’s average working time dropping below 20% of their usual hours. 

It is possible that HMRC will provide further information on how sickness should be treated since this is a gap in the current guidance.

Can we claim for employees on family leave?

Employees can be claimed for under JSS Open upon return from family leave assuming they meet the criteria and are working 20% of their usual hours. Under JSS Closed, you can claim for any enhanced (earnings related) contractual pay for employees on family leave who qualify for statutory pay (e.g. statutory maternity pay).

Employees wishing to end their maternity leave early to be placed on JSS Open or Closed will not be eligible to do so until they have given eight weeks’ notice of their new return to work date.

The guidance also confirms that legislation will be introduced to ensure that no employees will lose out on their entitlement to parental pay due to being placed on the JSS during the earnings assessment period.

Ending employment and working elsewhere

Can we make redundancies whilst employees are on the JSS?

The JSS does not stop you making redundancies but, once an employee is made redundant or moves onto a contractual or statutory notice period, you will not be able to claim a grant for them. This differs from the furlough scheme, which allows you to claim the furlough grant during an employee’s notice period.

If an employee is made redundant or moved onto notice within the first seven days of a JSS Open/JSS Closed temporary working agreement, you won’t be able to claim any grant for them at all - i.e. you cannot claim for the days before the employee was put on notice or made redundant.

Can we start redundancy consultation?

It seems that you will be able to start redundancy consultation and put employees at risk of redundancy while claiming for them under either JSS, so long as you do not issue notice of termination of employment.

What if an employee resigns or leaves for a non-redundancy reason during the time we are using the JSS?

You won’t be able to claim for them under the scheme once they begin their notice period. If they are within the first seven days of the JSS Open/JSS Closed temporary working agreement, you won’t be able to claim for any days that occurred before the employee was put on notice.

How would we calculate redundancy pay for an employee in the JSS?

This is unclear. The government recently legislated to ensure that furloughed employees have their statutory redundancy payments calculated on the basis of their pre-pandemic pay, rather than the pay they received while in the furlough scheme (see our article on this). It seems likely that the government will extend the new rules to cover employees in the JSS, but this has not yet been confirmed.

Can employees volunteer or take another job during the hours we don’t need them to work for us?

Yes. The guidance confirms that employees are permitted to volunteer or work for another employer while under a JSS Open or JSS Closed agreement.

Making claims under the JSS

How do we claim?

Employers will be able to make claims under the JSS online. The claim period for each employee depends upon their pay period. A claim window will open to submit claims for pay periods that ended the previous month. The window will only be open for 14 days and you can only make one claim for all the employees you wish to claim for in respect of that month. If the pay period straddles two months, the whole claim is made after the end of the pay period. (It is not apportioned between the months.)

This is a very narrow claim window, and a lot of detail is needed about each employee and each location (for JSS Closed). Employers should start gathering all the necessary information early, so as not to miss the opportunity to claim.   

HMRC have provided examples to assist employers with working out their claim period.

Can we claim the grant before paying the employee?

No. Grant payments will be made monthly in arrears, reimbursing the employer for the government’s contribution. This means that a claim can only be submitted in respect of a given pay period after payment has been made and that payment has been reported to HMRC via an RTI return. Delaying payment to employees will mean that you will be ineligible to claim.

For many employers, this could create cashflow headaches in these very straitened times, although the government’s array of business support grants and loans may help.

What checks are carried out?

HMRC will check claims, and payments may be withheld or need to be paid back if a claim is found to be fraudulent or based on incorrect information.

HMRC have confirmed that employees will be able to see if a claim has been made relating to them via their personal tax account and will be asked to report fraud.

Penalties of up to 100% of the amount claimed may be applied “if appropriate”.

What if the employee thinks we should have claimed more?

Employers trying to make large number of complex calculations in a short time frame are liable to make mistakes. JSS agreements should ideally cover this issue and seek to protect employers against claims from employees.

What records do I need to keep?

Record-keeping requirements are quite onerous.

You must keep a record of each written JSS agreement for five years and make it available to HMRC on request.

You must record and keep a copy for six years of:

  • the amount claimed and the claim period for each employee
  • the claim reference number
  • number of days claimed for under each type of support
  • any calculations you did to prepare your claim, including those to work out usual hours (for JSS Open) and reference salary
  • number of hours worked (for JSS Open)
  • any days you disregard for any claim period (for JSS Open).

Alternative resourcing options for employers outside the JSS

Redundancies

If you have some work, but not enough to keep everyone on their pre-pandemic hours, one option is to select some staff for redundancy while keeping others employed on their full hours. There is an argument that it is unfair to make employees redundant when a government-supported JSS is available as an alternative. However, the fairness of a redundancy dismissal depends on all the circumstances at the time, including the employer’s resources. It will not necessarily be unfair to make employees redundant instead of using the JSS, particularly given the additional costs incurred by the employer in making use of the scheme. 

Reduced hours working outside of the scheme

Another option is to agree a reduced working week with employees that does not involve putting them into the JSS. For example, it would be possible to agree with an employee that they will work for a 20% of their original normal hours and be paid for those, but without seeking recourse to any further top-ups under the JSS. Any proportion of working hours could be agreed under such an arrangement and it would not require a minimum of 20%. You could even offer a top-up.

From the employee’s perspective, however, this is a much less attractive arrangement. Unless your underlying agreement with the employee allows for reduced hours or sets no minimum normal hours, this sort of agreement will need to be negotiated with them.

Unpaid leave

It is possible that some employees will prefer a period of unpaid leave to redundancy or reduced-hours working - for example, if they are Covid-vulnerable and do not want to go to the workplace at the moment. This might even be a reasonable adjustment if the employee is disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. For a more detailed discussion of this issue, see our FAQs on staffing decisions when reopening workplaces.

 

 

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