Redundancy should always be a last resort and employers must always demonstrate that they made attempts to avoid redundancies. However, in these challenging times, redundancies can sometimes be the only means by which a business can continue to operate responsibly, and continue to provide jobs for remaining staff.
This briefing sets out what redundancies are, your obligations as an employer considering redundancies and the support available for your business and your staff.
The government has announced several measures to help businesses keep people in employment and create new jobs, as well as to support those out of work in finding jobs.
Support includes and extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough), the Coronavirus Job Retention Bonus, Kickstart and new incentives for taking on apprentices and trainees.
Extended until the 31st March. Employees can work any number of hours. Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 and employers will pay employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions only for the hours the employee does not work. The government will review the level of employer contribution in January.
This extended Job Retention Scheme will operate as the previous scheme did, with businesses being paid upfront to cover wages costs. There will be a short period when the government needs to change the legal terms of the scheme and update the system and businesses will be paid in arrears for that period.
The CJRS is being extended until the 31st March. The level of the grant will mirror levels available under the CJRS in August, so the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 and employers will pay employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions only for the hours the employee does not work. The government will review the level of employer contribution in January.
As under the current CJRS, flexible furloughing will be allowed in addition to full-time furloughing.
The CJRS Extention is open to all businesses, and employers needn’t have used the scheme previously to take advantage of the extension. Similarly, employees needn’t have been furloughed previously to be furloughed under the extension. New employees can be furloughed so long as they were on payroll by 30th October.
Additionally, employers can rehire and then furlough staff made redundant since 23rd September under this extension, so long as those staff were on the payroll on or before 30th October
Further details, including how to claim this extended support through an updated claims service, will be provided shortly.
The Job Support Scheme will be introduced following the end of the CJRS.
For hours not worked by the employee, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. The grant must be paid to the employee in full.
Employers will pay employer NICs and pension contributions and should continue to pay the employee for hours worked in the normal way.
As with the current CJRS, employers are still able to choose to top up employee wages above the scheme grant at their own expense if they wish.
The Government will confirm shortly when claims can first be made in respect of employee wage costs during November, but there will be no gap in eligibility for support between the previously announced end-date of CJRS and this extension. The claims deadline date will be 2 weeks after the end of the scheme (as opposed to four weeks previously)
Fully funded 6 month placement for 16-24 year olds at highest risk of long-term unemployment
The government has announced a new scheme, Kickstart, which is a £2 billion fund for the direct creation of jobs for young people aged 16-24 who are on Universal Credit, out of (active) work for six months or more and ‘work ready,’ but deemed to be at the highest risk of long-term unemployment.
The Treasury expects the scheme to benefit c.200,000 young people.
Funding will be available to businesses for each job, to cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for up to 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions for 6 months. Employers can top this up if they want to. The Government is also offering employers £1,500 to set up support and training for those taking part.
To benefit from the scheme, jobs must be high quality, new additional jobs – rather than simply replace existing jobs – and if they don’t take them on longer-term at the end of the six months, employers must provide training and support to help the young person find a permanent job.
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The scheme is open to all sectors and types of businesses. If your organisation is planning to create 30 job placements (or more) then you can submit your application directly through the government website here.
You may now also submit your application directly through the Department for Work and Pensions, here, if your organisation is looking to create fewer than 30 job placements.
To find out more about the Kickstart scheme, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Businesses will access eligible young people for qualifying jobs through the Department for Work and Pensions. As an employer, you will interview the applicants and decide which candidate is best suited to the job. It is important to note that you will only receive the funding if you appoint someone that has been referred to you through the scheme.
Additional payments of £2,000 to employers new apprentice under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice aged 25 and over
Apprenticeships are a means of formal vocational training, whereby an apprentice gains recognised qualifications and essential skills alongside working and earning a wage. Apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16.
The Chancellor also announced that the Government will introduce a new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1st August 2020 to 31st March 2021.
These payments will be in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the Government already provides for new 16-18 year-old apprentices, and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan – where that applies.
To take on (additional) apprentices and benefit from this extra incentive, businesses are encouraged to speak to local training providers.
The additional payments will be made through the Digital Apprenticeship Service – which levy paying and non levy paying employers are now encouraged to sign up to.
£1,000 grant for each trainee placement – up to 10 (a minimum 100 hours work experience for 16-24 ear olds undertaking a traineeship course)
A traineeship is a course aimed at 16-24 year olds with qualifications up to and including a Level 3 (A Level equivalent). It can last from 6 weeks to 6 months. Candidates will do a combination of study, normally English, Maths, a vocational subject and employability and work experience.
The work experience part of a traineeship is normally a minimum 100 hours. Traineeships are not jobs and employers are not required to pay trainees, however, they are encouraged to contribute to expenses associated with traineeships. Trainees can continue to receive work benefits, including JSA/UC.
The Government has set out its intent to provide an additional £111 million this year for traineeships to triple learner participation. It also plans to improve provision.
Potentially most crucially, the Government also plans to fund employers who provide trainees with work experience, at a rate of £1,000 per trainee.
This £1,000 per trainee grant is available for up to 10 trainees per employer. No confirmation is yet available on how this will be paid, but most likely it will be through the provider. Interested businesses are encouraged to speak to local training providers about benefitting from this scheme.
Measures to enhance funded training opportunities - full details are to be confirmed
On 29th September Boris Johnson announced that the government will be looking to expand and reform apprenticeships so that unspent levy funds can be used more easily to support apprenticeships in the SMEs. The government’s intention is to ensure that apprentices can continue their qualifications where contracts end, with new employers.
The government also intends to change the post-18 education funding model so that student loans for up to four years of study are made available not just for university courses, but also certain college courses (Boris Johnson specified that these will be “a specific list of valuable and mainly technical courses to be agreed with employers.”).
Boris Johnson also announced plans to expand the digital boot camps – where you can learn IT, whatever your age, replicating training camps in Manchester and Birmingham in four more locations.
The Prime Minister also announced that from April 2020, the government will fund technical courses for adults equivalent to A-level in ‘in demand’ skills. Any adult without an A-Level or equivalent will be eligible for this funding.
With the exception of government funding for adults with no A-Level or equivalent qualifications, which is expected to be available from April 2020, the government has not yet released details as to when the measures set out in the lifetime skills guarantee will come into effect.