Not even a month has passed since the Chancellor announced the job support scheme (JSS) as an imminent successor to the furlough scheme.

A fortnight ago, while it was hot off the presses, we outlined what we knew at the time about the JSS. There have been more developments since then.

In the last week as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, Rishi Sunak tweaked the JSS to provide additional support to employers.

He hopes this expansion of the JSS “will provide a safety net for businesses who are required to close, giving them the right support at the right time”.

Two different sets of support measures are available to employers, depending on whether coronavirus restrictions have closed a business.

The Government hopes this will limit unemployment and protect employee incomes over the winter, while enabling businesses to reopen as quickly as possible when circumstances allow.

Job support scheme ‘open’

Employers that remain open but are not busy, because they are in an area of the UK which is in ‘high alert’ due to the virus, can access the JSS ‘open’.

This applies to businesses, such as pubs, cafes and restaurants, that have been less busy because gatherings of more than six are banned.

To qualify for the JSS ‘open’, an employee must work at least 20% of their hours and be paid at their normal rate.

The employer then pays an additional 5% - they can pay more if they wish - and the Government contributes 61.67% of the wages for the hours not worked.

This should ensure employees receive at least 73% of their normal wages, where they earn £3,125 a month or less, initially until 30 April 2021.

Employers still have to pay National Insurance contributions and workplace pension contributions on an employee’s behalf as usual.

Job support scheme ‘closed’

Employers who have to close their business due to local COVID-19 restrictions can claim support to help pay wages through the JSS ‘closed’.

Each worker who cannot work as a direct result of these restrictions can get two-thirds of their usual pay, up to a cap of £2,083.33 a month.

Like the JSS ‘open’, employers can opt to pay more than this is they wish.

Employers can make their first claim for the Government-backed JSS from 8 December 2020 to cover November pay periods.

Similar patterns will be in place for subsequent months of the scheme, with the final claims for April 2021 due to be made in early May 2021.


The British Chambers of Commerce hailed the JSS upgrade as a “significant improvement in the support available”.

That view was echoed by the Federation of Small Businesses, which said the expansion “gives SMEs a shot at surviving the crisis”.

The Institute of Directors welcomed “a substantial reduction in the employer contribution” but called for clarity on future support measures.

Speak to us about COVID-19 support.