Employment law specialist Julian Cox on Government's Job Support Scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced an update to the UK-wide Job Support Scheme, including for workers in England where tier 2 restrictions apply. 

Julian Cox, partner and employment law specialist, law firm BLM said:

“These changes are going to very helpful for many tier two businesses facing a reduction in footfall, particularly the hospitality sector, as it effectively means employees can work less hours and receive greater government support, with far  less of a contribution required from employers.

“For those businesses, in any tier, considering applying to the job protection scheme, a thorough review of where hours can be reduced is vital. Changes to contractual hours could prove a minefield, and employers must make sure their teams are clear on the new ways of working.

“Whilst the additional support will of course be welcomed for struggling businesses, it is simply not as generous as the original furlough scheme and with this winding to a close at the end of the month, redundancies seem inevitable. There will be businesses that simply cannot afford to make these contributions. If commencing redundancies, caution is emphasised. Consultations must be thorough, evidenced and use fair selection criteria.

“It poses an interesting challenge for businesses that have sites across different tiers. Whilst the new changes are applicable for wages at tier two sites, the original contribution levels that still apply in tier one might not go far enough for businesses with sites in this area, and some may still decide to launch redundancy consultation at affected tier one sites. Could a tier one employee make the argument this is not fair selection criteria, and take this to tribunal? There’s a number of unanswered questions following today’s announcement that could cause significant problems later down the line for the businesses that survive.”

Disclaimer: This document does not present a complete or comprehensive statement of the law, nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight issues that may be of interest to clients of BLM. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in any particular case.

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