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Is the new Job Support Scheme likely to be of help to practices?

On Thursday 24th September, the Chancellor announced that the Furlough scheme was not going to be extended, as many had predicted, but instead that a new “Job Support Scheme” was going to take its place.

Unlike Furlough, the criteria to be eligible is far less complex, with the scheme simply stating that all small and medium sized businesses are eligible, which means for the first time, this may actually apply to practices. But is it likely to be useful and is it needed?

What is the Scheme?

The idea of the scheme is to stop companies having to make employees redundant due to a reduction in business because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government have announced that they will pay 1/3 of wages that an employee cannot work due to the work not being available.

So an employee must work a minimum of 33% of their contract. The remaining unworked 67% is then divided into three. The government will pay 1/3 of the unworked hours, the employer must also pay 1/3 of unworked hours and the employee loses the final 1/3. This results in an employee receiving 77% of their usual pay.

The scheme starts on the 1st November, the day after the Furlough scheme closes and will last for 6 months with some changes expected within that time.

 

Is it likely to help practices?

During the initial stages of the pandemic, work in some GP Practices did indeed quieten down, with the FPM HR Helpline receiving many emails from PMs asking what to do with employees that the practice didn’t have enough work for.

Since resuming a more normal practice, most employees are back to being as busy as normal and therefore the likelihood of the above scheme actually being able to support a practice is slim. However there are some practices out there that may find that they still do not feel fully back in action and the scheme may be worth considering.

If as a practice, the pandemic meant that you needed to streamline procedures and find new ways of working that you have decided to continue with, of course this means that redundancies and restructures may be the more sensible way forwards.

 

What else is new?

The government also released the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 on the 27th September. These include having a duty to inform the Secretary of State if someone within the household has tested positive for Covid-19.

The one that practices need to be aware of however, is Regulation 7, that make it an offence to permit a worker to attend any place other than where the individual is isolating. This includes people who are self isolating because a member of their household has tested positive. This means that a practice is now responsible for ensuring that self-isolating employees do not work (unless they are working from home) and if they fail to do so, they could face a minimum £1000 fine.

If you have any questions about the “Job Support Scheme”, Redundancy or any other HR problems, FPM members can email hrhelp@firstpracticemanagement.co.uk


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