Job Support Scheme: what is a viable job?

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WORKERS will get up to two-thirds of wages paid for hours they can’t work due to coronavirus in the new Job Support Scheme.

Rishi Sunak hopes the furlough replacement will reduce job losses, but it will only support those in “viable” jobs. We explain all we know so far.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak hopes the Job Support Scheme will reduce job losses, but it will only support those in “viable” jobs

What is the Job Support Scheme for workers?

The new Job Support Scheme will be available from November 1 and run for six months.

It will only be available to employees who are working fewer than normal hours due to decreased demand.

Employers will continue to pay staff for hours that they work – but for the hours they’ve not worked the government and employer will pay one third of their equivalent salary.

It means workers will be paid two thirds of their salary for the hours they can’t work.

How the new Job Support Scheme will work once furlough ends

To be eligible, employees must be working at least a third of their contracted hours and be paid for those hours in full by their employer.

The government will then cover a third of the pay they have lost from having their hours reduced.

You employer will then top up the other third. In total, someone on the scheme will receive 77% of their total pay, according to The Treasury.

The Government’s chunk of the support will be capped at £697.92 per month.

Anyone who is in employment as of September 23 can be put on the scheme – and it’s open to all small and medium-sized businesses who didn’t apply to furlough before.

Larger businesses will only be eligible when their turnover has fallen.

Employers who take advantage of the scheme can also claim the Jobs Retention Bonus worth £1,000 if they keep staff in work through to January 31, 2021.

Staff cannot be made redundant or put on notice of redundancy during the period within which their employer is claiming the grant for that employee.

What is a ‘viable’ job?

The furlough scheme was aimed to protect a majority of jobs during coronavirus lockdown.

But now that much of the economy has reopened, Mr Sunak says the government will instead “protect as many viable jobs as we can”.

The definition is crucial, as it means industries still in shutdown because of the pandemic will miss out on support.

Although the Treasury is yet to release full guidance, a spokesperson told HOAR the definition refers to jobs where businesses can continue to employ their workers over the coming months, even if only part-time.

In other words, a viable job could be one in hospitality and retail, two sectors that have suffered huge losses but are still limping along.

A non-viable job, on the other hand, could include theatre ushers and nightclub bouncers; two sectors that have remained closed since March.

HOAR has spoken to part-time theatre usher Jade Fox, 24, who’s been put on furlough since coronavirus hit the UK.

She says the new scheme “won’t help her whatsoever”, as there are no plans for the theatre to reopen anytime soon meaning her bosses can’t take advantage of the scheme. 

Meanwhile, Next boss Simon Wolfson has also warned that thousands of traditional retail jobs are unviable due to the shift toward online shopping.

The furlough scheme has been wound down since July and is due to end completely on October 31.

The Job Support Scheme will only help those on the PAYE pay roll.

Meanwhile, self-employed workers have been given more time to pay their tax bill.

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