Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced changes to the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS), which will be slowly wound down between July and October.
The changes mean businesses will be able to bring furloughed employees back on a part-time basis from 1 July.
Furloughed staff will continue to get 80% of their salary until the scheme finishes at the end of October. However, employers will be expected to gradually contribute more towards furloughed employees’ salaries.
The taxpayer contribution will remain at 80% during August but employers will have to pay national insurance and employer pension contributions.
In September, employers will be asked to start paying 10% towards people’s wages, which will rise to 20% in October.
JRS closes to new entrants from 30 June, but more critically, 10 June is the last date by which an employee can be put on furlough for the first time.
The government have announced they will bring forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:
- This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.
- Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020.
- Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19.
- Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
- Eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to those staying at home comes into force.
- The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.
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The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced that employees will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from day one when self-isolating rather than having to wait until day four under the SSP waiting days rules.
The change will be included in a package of measures, to be introduced by emergency legislation, to deal with coronavirus.
Updating Parliament on the Government’s response to the virus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs:
‘I can today announce that the Health Secretary will bring forward, as part of our emergency legislation measures, to allow the payment of Statutory Sick Pay from the very first day you are sick instead of four days under the current rules.
‘No one should be penalised for doing the right thing.’
The Prime Minister had earlier said:
‘We are not at the point yet where we are asking large numbers of people to self-isolate, but that may of course come if large numbers have the symptoms.
‘If they stay at home, they are helping to protect all of us by preventing the spread of the virus.’
The press release advises that the change will be a temporary measure to respond to the outbreak and will lapse when it is no longer required.