Employers who retain staff for three months after the furlough scheme ends will receive £1,000 government ‘bonus’ for each employee, the Chancellor has announced.
The bonus will be:
Employees must earn above the National Insurance lower earnings limit (£520 per month) on average between 31 October 2020 when the CJRS ends and the end of January 2021.
The bonus payments will be made from February 2021.
Although a modest sum, this will undoubtedly be useful, coming at a time when those businesses which have deferred tax debts begin to work out how to pay these. For example, self assessment taxes due at the end of January (by the unincorporated business owner) and VAT at the end of March.
Starting from November, the government’s new Job Support Scheme will cover up to 22% of pay for workers in “viable” jobs for the next six months. The scheme will replace the current Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme due to end on the 31 October.
Under the new scheme workers would need to work at least a third of their normal hours to qualify. Employers will pay staff for the hours they work but for the hours they don’t work, the government and the employer will each cover one-third of the lost pay. The government’s contribution will be capped at £697.92 per month.
Subject to the detailed rules applying, anyone employed as of yesterday (23 September 2020) is eligible, and all small and medium-sized businesses can apply, although larger businesses can only use the scheme if their turnover has fallen during the pandemic. Employers do not have to have used the furlough scheme previously. Large employers are not expected to have been making capital distributions, such as dividend payments or share buybacks while claiming the grant.
Sunak also clarified that employers retaining furloughed staff on shorter hours can claim both the Job Support Scheme and the Job Retention Bonus, which will be available in February next year.