The Job Support Scheme: a guide for employees

    IMPORTANT NOTE: The Job Support Scheme outlined here was due to replace the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (or furlough scheme) on 1 November 2020. However, the furlough scheme is now being extended instead and the Job Support Scheme is being postponed.  

    Our page on the furlough scheme is being updated to reflect the latest developments.  As at 12 November 2020, we did not have any information about whether or when the Job Support Scheme would be reintroduced.

    Here are some facts and Q & As about the new Job Support Scheme to help you understand it better and make informed decisions about your future employment prospects.

    We are aware that it’s hard to follow, as the scheme has been updated twice already since it was first announced back in September. But don’t worry, we’ve updated this article to reflect the latest updates that were made on 22 October 2020.


    What is the Job Support Scheme?

    • The Job Support Scheme (JSS) is designed to replace the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (often called the furlough scheme). The JSS runs from 1 November 2020 to 30 April 2021.
    • The new Scheme is intended to help both employers and employees by topping up salaries/wages in organisations which can’t afford to take their employees back on a full-time basis.
    •  If your workplace is in tier three and is legally required to close, you’ll receive two thirds of your wages, up to a maximum of £2,100 per month. You need to be off work for seven days to receive that, and it all comes from the government via what’s called “JSS Closed”.
    • More generally, if your employer stays open but is less busy, you will be eligible for support under the Job Support Scheme via what’s called “JSS Open”. 
    • With the JSS Open option, you have to be in what’s referred to as a ‘viable’ job, where you can work for at least 20% of your normal hours.  You will also need to have been on your employer’s PAYE payroll since 23 September 2020 or before. 
    • The new Scheme includes employees on irregular or zero-hours contracts.
    • Small and medium sized businesses can use the JSS and large businesses can also use it if their revenue has fallen because of coronavirus.
    • The main difference between the furlough scheme and the Job Support Scheme is that now you must work in order to benefit.
    • The idea is to encourage employers to keep you in their employment and to continue to operate their businesses – unless they are legally required to close.
    • Another difference between this new Scheme and the furlough scheme is that employers can’t make you redundant or put you on notice whilst they are claiming a Job Support Scheme grant on your behalf.

    How much will you get from the Job Support Scheme?

    If you’ve already read the Government’s first announcement about this scheme, you’ll need to return to the drawing board, as this is quite different.

    Employees will be required to work at least 20% of their hours, which will be paid by the employer in the usual way. (Originally, that was 33%.) 

    The employer will also pay 5% of the hours not worked, but that part will be capped at £125 per employee per month (down from 33% in the scheme as first announced). The Government will contribute 61.67% (up from 33%), to a maximum of £1,541.75. 


    So how much you receive from the JSS depends on how many hours you work:


    Job Support Scheme Example 1: You work 20%* of your normal hours, and your usual salary is £1,000 per month

    • The 20%* of your normal hours that you work under the Scheme will be paid by your employer: £200. 
    • Your employer will also pay 5% of the remaining £800: £40. So in total, your employer will pay you £240.
    • The Government will pay 61.67% of £800: £493.33.
    • So in total, you will receive £733.33. 


    In summary, you will receive just over 73% of your normal pay. That’s a little less than in the scheme as originally pronounced, but more of it is paid by the government.  Your employer will pay 24% of your normal pay, even though you only worked one fifth or 20% of your normal hours. (See Q and A below for more discussion on this.)


    Job Support Scheme Example 2: You work half or 50% of your normal hours

    Your employer will pay the 50% that you work plus 2.5% (i.e. 5% of 50%), and the Government will pay 30.83%. So in total, you will receive 83.33% of your normal pay. 

    Is the Job Support Scheme better for you than Furlough?

    Furlough provided a nice cushion when the crisis was at its peak, but people were worried that in practice it was a precursor to redundancy. That is less likely to be the case with the Job Support Scheme, so in that respect at least, it is better for you than Furlough.


    How likely are employers to take up the Job Support Scheme?

    Originally, employers were going to have to pay for a third of the hours not worked, which is a substantial amount and we feared the scheme would not be attractive for them. They now only have to contribute 5%, which hopefully won’t put off too many. 

    If employers are optimistic about the future, they will be very likely to pay so that essential work is done and so that they don’t lose good employees.

    They can also put employees on the new Scheme for short periods, of at least seven days (having them work full time the rest of the time).


    Can employers force you into the Job Support Scheme?

    No, they can’t unilaterally force a change to your contract – but you have to consider whether it’s preferable to redundancy.


    What if you’re offered redundancy when there’s as much work as before?

    That would be unfair dismissal. So, if redundancy is a possibility, have a look at our Redundancy letter builder as a first step. 

    You can use the letter builder if you are facing redundancy and want to persuade your employer to keep you on – perhaps helped by the Job Support Scheme.  The letter builder can also be used if you want to negotiate a redundancy exit package with your employer.  

    Also, the Job Support Scheme says that you cannot be made redundant whilst your employer is claiming the grant.

    What should you do next?

    If your employer is considering using the Job Support Scheme, we’d suggest you consider your options and do your calculations – for example:

    1. Work out what you’d get if you were made redundant: the calculation for statutory redundancy pay is set out on our page on redundancy negotiations, though some businesses voluntarily pay more than the statutory minimum.
    2. Look at job adverts and evaluate your chances of getting another job if you accepted redundancy.
    3. Think about whether you could use the extra free time to gain new skills or qualifications, which could be useful either in your current job or elsewhere.
    4. Have a look at our other articles on coronavirus-related issues and the other relevant material listed in our Helpful Guides below. If redundancy is a real prospect, try our Redundancy letter builder outlined earlier.


    Get in touch

    Contact us at Monaco Solicitors if you are think that your employer is treating you badly, whether it’s in connection with operation of the Job Support Scheme, or for any other reason.

    We are a specialist employment law firm, only representing employees. Our team of senior solicitors are friendly and approachable professionals.  They have many years experience of successfully representing employees who are being poorly treated at work.