The Government’s new national lockdown has a number of implications for employers and employees. The lockdown in England begins on Thursday 5 November and is currently scheduled to end on Wednesday 2 December.
However, the stipulations and rules around exiting the lockdown in December have not yet been set out leading to speculation that it may be extended further depending on the infection rate at the time.
Furlough scheme extended
The furlough scheme – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – initially scheduled to end on 31 October, has been extended until December, exact date to be confirmed. The terms of the furlough scheme will revert back to how it stood in August and before the Government began to wind it down. This means the government will now pay up to 80% of an employee’s normal pay, to a limit of £2,500. Employers will be responsible for National Insurance and pension contributions.
Businesses will have flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis or furlough them full-time. Businesses will be paid upfront by the Treasury to cover wages costs.
Job Support Scheme postponed
The Job Support Scheme (JSS) had been on standby to take over from the CJRS on 1 November but this has now been postponed until the furlough scheme extension has ended.
The government has widened the scheme. To be eligible under this extension employees must have been on the PAYE payroll before midnight on 30th October 2020. This means that recent starters are included, or employees who may not have qualified for furlough but who would have been eligible for the JSS.
Grants and support for businesses
In addition, business premises forced to close in England are to receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month under the Local Restrictions Support Grant. Businesses required to close in England due to local or national restrictions will be eligible for the following, depending on their rateable value:
- For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £1,334 per month, or £667 per two weeks;
- For properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k grants to be £2,000 per month, or £1,000 per two weeks;
- For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to be £3,000 per month, or £1,500 per two weeks.
Also, £1.1bn is being given to Local Authorities, distributed on the basis of £20 per head, for one-off payments to enable them to support businesses more broadly.
Self Employed Income Support Scheme Extension (SEISS)
There were no changes announced to the SEISS over the weekend. The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant was extended to support to the self-employed in the form of two grants, each available for three month periods covering November 2020 to January 2021 and February 2021 to April 2021. To be eligible for the Grant Extension self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, must:
- have been previously eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme first and second grant (although they do not have to have claimed the previous grants)
- declare that they intend to continue to trade and either:
- are currently actively trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus
- were previously trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus
The extension will last for six months, from November 2020 to April 2021. Grants will be paid in two lump sum instalments each covering a three-month period. They are taxable income and also subject to National Insurance contributions.
The Government’s aim is to provide broadly the same level of support for the self-employed as is being provided for employees through the Job Support scheme.
If you or your business would like some HR or employment related advice, please get in touch. We’d be happy to help.