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Government’s Coronavirus job support schemes

In this page you will find useful links and relevant information about the government's Coronavirus job support schemes

Last updated: 3 February 2021

Scroll down for information about the Job Retention Scheme (furlough). Additional information is available on the CFG website

Supporting furloughed staff

The Directory of Social Change has published a page with suggestions on how you can support furloughed staff. The Heart of the City has also published a guide for supporting furloughed staff, organised in two main topics: the view from HR and the view on mental health. 

Working families has also published a FAQs page on furlough for furloughed employees – please check it here

Job Retention Scheme (furlough)

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 April 2021.
  • Claims for furlough days in December 2020 must be made by 14 January 2021.
  • You can no longer submit claims for claim periods ending on or before 31 October 2020.

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough), government grants will cover 80% (up to a maximum of £2500) of the salary of PAYE employees who would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

Employers can choose to top up the extra 20% of the employees’ salary, but they do not have to.

Individuals must agree to being furloughed and be on the employer’s PAYE payroll on 19 March 2020 or before but can be engaged on any type of contract including full-time, part-time, employees on agency contracts, and employees on flexible or zero-hours contracts.

From 30 June, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full three week period prior to 30 June. This means that the final date by which an employer could furlough an employee for the first time would have been 10 June, in order for the current 3 week furlough period to be completed by 30 June. Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June

  • To be eligible for the grant employers must confirm in writing to their employee confirming that they have been furloughed. If this is done in a way that is consistent with employment law, that consent is valid for the purposes of claiming the CJRS. A record of this communication must be kept for up to six years.
  • To claim under the scheme employers will need to designate an affected employee as a “furloughed worker” and notify the employee of this change.
  • We recommend you take legal/HR advice from one of ACEVO’s corporate partners, if your employees’ contract of employment does not permit this change in status.
  • Until 31 July 2020, HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. However, after this date the grant available for each worker will reduce each month until the Scheme closes on 31 October 2020.
    • From 1 August 2020 employers will be required to pay employer’s national insurance and pension contributions (plus any further top-up agreed)
    • From 1 September 2020 the government will cover 70% of the salary with employers topping up the 10% and the employer’s national insurance and pension contributions (plus any further top-up agreed)
    • From 1 October 2020 the government will cover 60% of the salary with employers topping up the 20% and the employer’s national insurance and pension contributions (plus any further top-up agreed)
  • Employees on sick leave or self-isolating cannot be furloughed until after their isolation or sick leave comes to an end.
  • Employees on maternity or paternity leave cannot be furloughed.
  • Furloughed employees are allowed to volunteer, but not for the organisation that furloughed them.
    • Since 1 July the option of ‘flexible furlough’ is available. This will allow employers to bring those on furlough back part-time whilst still claiming for the hours not worked through the CJRS up to the limits detailed above. There is no minimum period an employee can work or be furloughed after 1 July 2020. Claims for rebate may only be made in full weeks.
  • Statutory Maternity Pay (and related paternity/adoption pay) operates as normal.
  • For staff with variable pay, use the previous month the previous year or annual average.
  • There is nothing to stop employees being furloughed on rotation, but you should ensure you already have agreement to do so.
  • Wages of furloughed employees are subject to usual tax and NI.

Kickstart Scheme

What is it?

The Kickstart Scheme was announced by the chancellor in the July 2020 mini budget. It is part of a package of measures announced by government to try to address the impact of Covid-19 on rising unemployment, particularly among young people. Kickstart is aimed at young people aged 16 – 24 who are on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. Kickstart is a £2 billion fund and as of 25 January 2021, 120,000 job placements had been created for 16-24 year olds.

Update: The government announced a change to the scheme in January 2021, which you can read here. In order to encourage more businesses to take part in the scheme, the requirement for businesses to create a minimum of 30 vacancies to apply independently has been removed. This is a welcome development and we hope that it will make the scheme accessible to many more VCSE organisations, given the significant challenges associated with forming alliances to meet the previous minimum threshold.

What is the aim of the scheme?

The aim of the scheme is to give young people the chance to “build their confidence and skills in the workplace, and to gain experience that will improve their chances of going on to find long-term, sustainable work.” Referrals to the scheme will run until December 2021.

What employer costs will the scheme fund?

Organisations, including charities, employing someone on the Kickstart Scheme will be given 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours per week for six months. The fund will also cover associated employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic pension enrolment contributions. There will also be funding available to cover some overheads (more details to follow soon).

The employer may wish to employ the person for more hours, or on a higher wage, but that would be at their own cost.

What kind of roles will the Kickstart Scheme cover?

The government has said that any organisation, including those in the VCSE sector, offering good jobs can access the programme. However, funding is only available for new posts: it cannot be used to cover existing posts. In his announcement the chancellor said ‘funding would be conditional on the firm proving these jobs are additional.’ There is no cap on the number of placements an employer can offer.

Additionally, when announcing that the minimum threshold of 30 placements would be removed, the government stated that “to ensure all job placements continue to be of a high quality, the government will continue to apply rigorous checks on training, support and finances.”

What happens after six months?

It does not appear that there will be any obligation on the employer to continue employment after the six-month period. However, we assume that an offer of permanent employment could be made by the employer if appropriate.

The government has said that the Kickstart Scheme will sit alongside other measures offered by the Department for Work and Pensions. It has also announced new funding for a National Careers Service and more funding for traineeships.

How can you apply for the scheme?

To access the scheme an application must be made to the Department for Work and Pensions. The application process opened on Wednesday 2 September. A single organisation (of any type including charities and social enterprises) can apply directly to DWP.

Originally, organisations who wanted to recruit fewer than 30 people needed to partner with organisations to reach the minimum number, to form a Kickstart ‘gateway’. However, from 3 February 2021, this limit will no longer apply – any organisation can apply for any number of positions.

Gateways which already exist can provide essential local knowledge and support more organisations to utilise the scheme. Applications for new gateways will not be accepted, but DWP will continue to welcome applications made via existing gateways to create more roles. You can find a list of contact details for existing gateways here.