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Coronavirus, Job Support Scheme and debt

Coping with reduced hours at work is worrying and, in most cases, means having to get by on a reduced income. The Job Support Scheme has been introduced, replacing furloughs, to help people whose finances have been affected by COVID-19.

Although you may hope to get back to normal working hours as soon as possible, it may not be clear when you'll be able to. It’s important to act fast to reduce the impact on your finances.

On this page, we answer the following questions:

  1. What is the Job Support Scheme?
  2. What if my hours have been reduced?
  3. Who is eligible?
  4. Will I still get paid in lockdown?
  5. I'm working less hours, will I still be paid?
  6. What if I'm not eligible?
  7. Will I be made redundant?
  8. What are my rights?
  9. I'm self-employed, what help is available?

What is the Job Support Scheme?

The Job Support Scheme has been put in place by the government to help protect people's jobs if their employer is struggling with the impact of coronavirus on their business. It does this by helping employers to keep paying their staff, and aims to reduce the risk of job loss.

The scheme will open on 1 November 2020. It replaces furloughing and will run for six months.

What if my hours have been reduced?

If you’re on reduced hours, it means you still have a job, but you don’t have to go to work as much as you normally would.

So, you’re still on your employer’s payroll, and you may be able to return to work as usual if and when coronavirus restrictions are relaxed.

If your hours have been cut, you will continue to be paid for the time that you work. You may also be able to get your pay topped up by the government's Job Support Scheme (JSS). If you're worried about getting by on less money, take a look at our reduced income guide.

Who is eligible for the Job Support Scheme?

You may be eligible for the Job Support Scheme if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • You were in employment at the company on 23 September 2020
  • You stopped working for your employer after 23 September 2020, but have since been rehired

It doesn't matter what type of contract you have with your employer. Even if you are on a zero hours or temporary contract, you can be eligible as long as one of the above criteria applies.

You don't need to have been furloughed to be eligible for the Job Support Scheme.

My employer has been forced to close in lockdown, will I still get paid?

If businesses are forced to close due to 'Tier 3' lockdown, employees can earn 67% of their wages, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month, through 'JSS Closed'.

To be eligible for this level of support, you must be off work for at least seven days. Your employer doesn't have to pay towards your salary, this is funded entirely by the government.

I'm working reduced hours, will I still be paid?

If you're working reduced hours, you will receive at least 73% of your normal pay, up to a maximum of £1,541.75.

This is because businesses that can remain open but are struggling financially can get help paying wages through 'JSS Open'. To be eligible for this, you must work at least 20% of your normal hours. Your salary is then topped up to 73% of your normal pay by your employer (who will contribute 4%) and the government (49%).

What if I'm not eligible for the Job Support Scheme?

If you're not eligible for help from the Job Support Scheme, and you're not being paid at all during this period, you can claim Universal Credit. Read our guide to coronavirus, benefits and statutory sick pay.

You can also check what support you might be eligible for by using our free benefits checker.

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My hours have been cut, will I be made redundant?

If you’re working reduced hours, it doesn't mean you're at risk of redundancy.

Reducing working hours is simply a step employers are taking to deal with the economic impact of coronavirus.

Reduced hours, Job Support Scheme and your rights

Can I ask to work reduced hours?

If you're worried about the security of your job, you can ask your employer to consider reducing your working hours. This could help their company keep costs down, whilst making it possible for you to return to your normal hours when the coronavirus crisis has calmed down.

However, the decision is ultimately up your employer so they have the right to deny your request to work fewer hours.

Can I refuse to have my hours cut?

Your employer has the right to decide whose hours are reduced. It's recommended that they ask for volunteers first, but if enough people don't volunteer, it's up to your employer to decide.

Can I get another job to top up my income?

If you're on reduced hours under the Job Support Scheme, you are still employed. This means that any rules set out in your employment contract still apply.

Breaking the terms of your employment contract puts your job at risk, and could make your situation worse, so check to see if it says you're allowed to work another job. If you're unsure, please contact your employer to check.

Can I still get help with money?

If you need urgent help, find out how to get emergency help with money for food and bills.

If you're worried about your financial situation as a result of coronavirus, you can find out more about the help available in our coronavirus information hub.

I'm self-employed, what help is available?

The existing Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is being extended for six months, from 1 November 2020 to April 2021.

If you're self-employed, this means you could be eligible for two lump-sum grant payments, each covering three months:

  • Grant 1 - covering 1 November to 31 January 2021 - This taxable grant will cover 40% of your monthly profits. It is one payment that will cover three months' profits, up to a maximum of £3,750 in total
  • Grant 2 - covering 1 February 2021 to 30 April 2021 - The second grant will also be paid in one lump-sum to cover the full three-month period. However, the Government hasn't confirmed how much this grant will be yet

You can also consider applying for Universal Credit to help you through this difficult time. Read our guide to coronavirus, benefits and statutory sick pay.

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