Monthly Archives: September 2020

New Job Support Scheme (24 September 2020)

Today, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the headline details of his Winter Economy Plan in recognition that the virus restrictions are likely to continue for the next 6 months and that the corresponding impact on business continues to be huge.

The Chancellor stated that it is right to end the Furlough /Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on 31 October. In his view, it would be wrong to hold jobs open that would only exist within the vacuum of the Furlough Scheme.

Instead from 1 November 2020, a new Job Support Scheme will commence based on a similar Scheme operating in Germany. This new Scheme is supported by both Frances O’Grady of the Trade Union Congress and Carolyn Fairbairn of CBI.

Whilst the Job Support Scheme is certainly less generous and more expensive to businesses than the Furlough Scheme, it is a very welcome development. It is hoped that this Scheme will help businesses with a depressed demand retain employees in viable jobs.

What we know about the Scheme so far is that:

  1. The purpose of the Job Support Scheme is to directly support the wages of people in work, giving businesses who face depressed demand over the winter the option of keeping employees in a job on shorter hours rather than making them redundant.
  2. The Scheme will support viable jobs so employees must be working at least a third of their usual hours and be paid for that work, as normal, by their employer.
  3. Thereafter for the remaining hours not worked, the Government will pay a 1/3 of the pay for those hours not worked and the employer will also pay a 1/3 of the pay for those hours not worked. The Government contribution is capped at £697.92 per month. The employee will keep their job and receive at least 77% of their wages (where Government contribution has not been capped).
  4. Anyone employed as of 23 September 2020 is eligible, but the employee must not be on redundancy notice.
  5. The Scheme will run from 1 November 2020 to April 2021.
  6. All small and medium sized UK businesses (with a UK bank account and UK PAYE Scheme) are eligible to apply.
  7. Larger businesses (not yet defined) are eligible but only when their turnover has fallen, and it is expected that larger business will not be making capital distributors (such as dividends).
  8. Businesses are eligible even if they have not previously furloughed workers.
  9. Employers retaining furloughed staff on shorter hours can claim both the Job Support Scheme and the Job Retention Bonus. This is to incentivise employers to bring back previously furloughed employees.

Other aspects of the Winter Economy Plan include a continued deferral of VAT this year through a New Payment Scheme. Rather than paying one lump sum in full at the end of March 2021 businesses will be able to make 11 smaller interest-free payments during the 2021-22 financial year.

In relation to loans, HMRC is extending the time period to apply for coronavirus loan schemes until the end of the year. There will also be a new, successor loan programme, set to begin in January 2021.

More flexibility will be given to repay Bounce Back Loans through a new  “Pay as you Grow” flexible repayment system.

There is also an extension of the Self Employed Income Support Scheme.

The announcement and current details of Plan can be viewed here

The PHA has published a new Short Guide by way of a flowchart called ‘COVID-19 in a business setting: A Quick Guide for Employers.’

This new Guide provides an overview of what businesses should do if someone tests positive and helpfully confirms that there is no need to close if one person tests positive. It also sets out guidance for what happens if there is more than one positive test linked to the workplace.

Many employers had trouble ascertaining what the recommended guidelines were. This Guide is helpful in explaining what should be done and provides businesses with the confidence that they are dealing with the situation correctly.

The PHA flow chart can be downloaded HERE

Apprentice Recovery Package (11 September 2020)

On 4 September 2020, the Department for the Economy announced a new Apprenticeship Recovery Package made up of 3 elements:

  1. Apprenticeship Return, Retain & Result Scheme
  2. Recruitment of New Apprenticeships
  3. Apprenticeship Challenge Fund

Further details were released on 11 September, the main provisions of which are summarized in this commentary. The overall announcement can be accessed here.

This is a very welcome initiative that hopefully will encourage businesses to retain and recruit apprentices.

  1. APPRENTICESHIP RETURN, RETAIN & RESULT SCHEME

This applies to any apprentice which is part of DfE-funded ApprenticeshipsNI or Higher Level Apprenticeship programmes, provided that the apprentice was furloughed and has returned/or will return to work after April 2020.

There are 3 elements to the payment that can potentially total up to £3,700.

Return: £500 is payable for each returned furloughed apprentice for the first full month of paid apprenticeship. They must return and continue working for at least a 4 week period from 1 November 2020. If the apprentice has returned earlier, then November 2020 will be treated as the return month. Payments to be made from December 2020.

Retain: a maximum of £2,000, split into £500 per month for up to 4 months payable for each of the months between 1 December 2020 to 31 March 2021. The amount will be pro rata to reflect part month returns.

Result: £1,200 for the successful full framework achievement of a returned furloughed apprentice. There is no time period currently for the completion.

Evidence required will include:

Further details of evidence requirements will be detailed in the application pack.

See here for further information.

  1. RECRUITMENT OF NEW APPRENTICESHIPS

Employers are eligible for up to £3,000 for each new apprenticeship opportunity created between 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 or for an apprentice that was brought back having been made redundant in that period. All apprentices under DfE-funded ApprenticeshipsNI or Higher Level Apprenticeship programmes are covered.

This bonus will be:

Notes:

Further details can be found here

  1. APPRENTICESHIP CHALLENGE FUND

The third strand, the Apprenticeship Challenge Fund is still being developed.

Funding will be via a grant to successful applicants following a competitive assessment process. Successful applicants will receive one-off awards of up to £50,000 although there is an option to increase for proposals with multiple partners or features.

It is anticipated that the Challenge Fund will open for applications in October 2020 with awards made in November 2020

More details are available here

Covid-19 Testing Guidance for Employers

Whilst this Guide only applies to England it states that equivalent guidance will be published for Northern Ireland. Therefore we can expect similar provisions being made.

The Guide sets out the legal and regulatory provisions for operating any testing programmes and covers:

It provides technical guidance on how to test and what tests results mean.

Many employers are not implementing COVID-19 testing, but this Guide is still helpful in that it:

We will keep Members notified when the Northern Ireland Guidance is available.

The Guide can be accessed here

Apprenticeship Recovery Package (4 September 2020)

The Department of Economy announced today an Apprenticeship Recovery Package as part of their Apprenticeship Return, Retain and Result initiative.

Limited details have been provided today with further details due in the coming days.

The details available so far are:

  1. Employers will be offered £3,700 for every apprentice they return from furlough and retain until they have completed their apprenticeship. Payment will be in instalments as follows:
    • £500 return from furlough payment;
    • Payment up to  £2,000 if apprentice retained for four months following their return from furlough;
    • Final result payment of £1,200 when the apprentice completes their qualification.
  2. Employers will be paid £3,000 per apprentice for each new apprenticeship opportunity created between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021.
  3. Scheme will begin on 1 November 2020, when furlough ends.
  4. Applies to all new apprenticeship opportunities created between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021.
  5. Payment available to all employers (regardless of size) and in all sectors

The Department has also indicated that an Apprenticeship Challenge Fund will be announced later in September where successful applicants could receive one off awards of up to £50,000.

This is a very welcome development for businesses and we will keep Members updated with any further information.

The Department’s announcement can be viewed here

Updated Guide (Claim for wages through the CJRS) & Template for Claims of 100+ Employees (7 September 2020)

This Guide has now been updated and requires that if you are using a Template for claiming for more than 100 employees on furlough, you need to state if the employee has come back from statutory leave and then been put on furlough.

The corresponding templates used for submitting a claim for 100 or more employees have also been updated. Employers must now record on the template if an employee has returned from statutory leave before being put on furlough.

The Updated Guide can be obtained here

The Updated Template can be accessed here

EEF NI ANNUAL EMPLOYMENT LAW & HR CONFERENCE – 15 & 22 OCTOBER 2020

As Members will be aware, in view of the ongoing public health situation we made the decision to cancel our Annual Employment Law & HR Conference earlier this year.

Although we are unable to hold the event in person, we will be providing some of the most important sessions from the Conference via an online platform.

We also recognise that this year has been particularly challenging for many businesses and, in light of this, we will be delivering these sessions entirely free of charge.

Our programme of events will begin on Thursday 15 October 2020 (10.00 am- 11.30 am) when will review the key case law, legislative and other developments of interest in 2019/20;

Following this, on Thursday 22 October 2020 (10.00 am- 11.30 am) we will look forward to addressing the big issues facing businesses and HR in 2020/21 including upcoming cases, new laws and topical issues.

Whilst our Conference is normally a Members only event, in light of the online nature of our event this year we will have a very limited number of free places available for private sector or charitable organisations.  If you know someone who you believe would enjoy attending the Conference, please ask them to contact info@eefni.org to check availability.

If you would like to book your place, please use the following links: DAY 1   /   DAY 2  or go to www.eventbrite.co.uk for details.

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