Rishi Sunak has today announced further support for employers in an attempt to stave off mass unemployment. The plan for jobs is the second part of a three-phase plan to secure the UK’s economic recovery from coronavirus. We set out the key elements below.
Job retention bonus
Employers who bring a furloughed worker back to work and continue to employ them until 31 January 2021 will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each such employee from the government. In order to be eligible for the bonus, the employee must be paid £520 on average each month between November and January.
The Chancellor also confirmed that the furlough scheme will finish at the end of October 2020 and there will, therefore, be no extension of the scheme.
Employers who create a new job for an individual aged between 16 – 24-years-old who is at risk of long-term unemployment and claiming Universal Credit, will receive funding towards the wage of that individual from the government for six months. The funding will be conditional on the business proving the jobs are newly created and the jobs must be for a minimum of 25 hours a week and be paid at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW). Employers will be able to pay more than NMW but will only be able to receive funding from the government in respect of the NMW. Employers must also provide training to the individual and support them in getting a permanent role. Employers will be able to apply for the scheme from August 2020 with the first such kickstart jobs starting in the Autumn.
The government will pay employers a bonus of £1,000 per new trainee taken on to encourage use of traineeships and will also triple the number of trainee places available.
For six months between August 2020 and January 2021, the government will pay employers to create new apprenticeships. Employers can receive £2,000 for each new apprentice they take on under the age of 25. This is 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.
In addition, employers can receive a bonus of £1,500 for each apprentice aged 25 or over whom they hire.
These measures will certainly provide some assistance to employers still struggling with the effects of the pandemic. However, with many employers considering redundancy exercises at the moment, whether these measures will be enough to prevent high levels of unemployment in the near future remains to be seen.