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Coronavirus Financial Support brief information and guidance for employees

The Government of Jersey has established some emergency schemes to give financial help to people whose jobs have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

If the coronavirus outbreak affects your employer’s ability to pay you, they might ask you to agree:

  • to decrease your wages 
  • to change to your contract 
  • a period where you aren’t paid (unpaid leave)

Or they may advise you that they:

  • propose to make you redundant (lose your job)

The Government is supporting employers to minimise the chance of this affecting you but recognises the needs of employers to make difficult decisions in order to keep trading.

This document is a summary of the help that is available for employees, and how you can get it. Your employer might be getting help from one of the schemes to keep you employed. They will have been given detailed advice about the rules they need to follow to get that help, so this document does not cover every situation. You should speak to your employer as soon as possible.

Income support is available to people who have lived in Jersey for at least 5 years and have a low household income. You can apply for Income Support if you are still working but your wages are reduced or if you are made redundant. If you have lived in Jersey for less than 5 years and lose your job due to coronavirus, you can apply for the Covid-Related Emergency Support Scheme (CRESS). 

Find out more on our Covid related emergency support scheme (CRESS) page

Payroll Co-funding Scheme

The Government has introduced an emergency scheme (the Payroll Co-funding Scheme Phase 2) to help employers meet wage costs if their business is affected by the coronavirus outbreak. You should talk to your employer about the Scheme as a first step.

If you work full-time, part-time, on a zero hours contract where you’ve been regularly working, or if you’re self-employed, you can be included in the Scheme. Many types of business are covered by the Scheme. 

Phase 2 of the Scheme will support the cost of wages for April, May and June 2020. 

Find more information about the shceme on our government support for businesses page

Jersey’s employment laws still apply if the business you work for is covered by the Scheme and the wages you receive are being subsidised by the Government. Your employer should discuss and agree with you any proposed change in your contract (working hours, rates of pay, etc) before any changes are made. Details about your rights as an employee, as well as specific advice about this Scheme, can be obtained from the Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service (JACS) on the JACS webiste.

Under the Scheme if your employer does not have enough work for you, they must allow you to participate in volunteer work organised by the Government. No one will be asked to volunteer unless it is safe to do so and all the health guidelines are fully followed. It is your personal choice to undertake volunteering activities.

If you live in staff accommodation, and your employer is using the Scheme, you must be allowed to remain in that accommodation while the Scheme is running. This applies even if you are made redundant by your employer.

How the Scheme supports your wages

Under the Scheme, your employer will still pay your wages. Once your wages have been paid, your employer can apply for help with the cost of your wages. Your employer will submit a claim to Customer and Local Services (CLS), this means that CLS may contact you to check how much you’ve been paid before they repay your employer.

You will need to pay Social Security contributions and ITIS as normal on the wages that you receive. If you receive Income Support your wages will be treated as normal.

As an employee, you will still have rights under Jersey’s employment laws. Any change to your normal wages or hours must be agreed between you and your employer. You can ask for any agreed changes to your pay or working hours to be provided in writing and ask for confirmation that this is only temporary.

The minimum wage in Jersey is £8.32 per hour. This is the legal minimum that you can be paid. Even if your employer asks you to reduce your hours or change your contract, you must be paid at least the minimum wage for each hour that you are contracted to work.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if my employer wants to reduce my normal wage or normal hours?

If your employer is worried about the cost of meeting your wages, they can apply for the Scheme as this will help with your wage costs for the next three months. Even so, your employer may ask you to take a pay cut or reduce your hours because there is not enough work. Pay cuts may help your employer to stay in business and to keep you in a job. 

The main payroll Scheme shares the cost of wages between the government (80%) and your employer (20%).  For businesses that pass extra tests, a special exemption scheme means that they can still apply for help with your wages even if they can’t afford the full 20%. Your employer will agree with you how much they can afford to pay you while they are on the Scheme. 

What happens if my employer wants to reduce my normal wage, normal hours, or asks me to take unpaid leave?  

Any changes to your leave arrangement specified in your contract are still subject to Jersey’s employment law.

Your employer might ask you to take unpaid leave. This is up to you and needs to be agreed between you and your employer.  The Scheme is only available to employers who are still paying wages to their workers. If you have already agreed to take unpaid leave, you should talk to your employer and see if they are covered by the Scheme.  If your employer agrees to end your unpaid leave and start paying wages, they will be able to apply for help with that cost from the Scheme.

If you are being asked to take unpaid leave and your employer is in one of the qualifying sectors for the Co-Funded Payroll Scheme, it may be able to provide assistance. If your employer is unable to afford to pay a contribution towards your wage costs, it may be able to access the Special Exemption Scheme and still qualify for a government subsidy. In these circumstances, it may not be necessary for the employer to place you on unpaid leave

What happens if my employer wants to reduce my normal wage or hours, and uses the special exemption scheme?

The Government expects employers to contribute as much towards their payroll cost as they can afford. However, where a business is not able to pay the full 20% employees should not suffer hardship by being disadvantaged twice. Firstly, due to reductions in their contracted hours or pay rate, and secondly through the employer not paying 20% of their wage. Government has said that employers should utilise the scheme to ensure that those on the lowest wages are least affected and employees receive wages, in line with the scheme guidelines, that are as close as possible to their pre-COVID-19 wages.

For example, a business could achieve this result by renegotiating with their employee to remove any reduction in hours that is no longer necessary because the special exemption scheme places less pressure on the business’s cashflow

What happens if my employer makes me redundant?

Despite support from Government, some businesses may decide that they can’t continue to employ all their staff and that they need to make some workers redundant. 

If you have been working for your employer for more than two years you are legally entitled to redundancy payments. The value of these payments depends on the amount of your last wage before you are made redundant.

If your employer asks you to take a pay cut or reduce your hours, and you are worried that you might be made redundant later on, you can ask your employer to agree in writing that any redundancy pay will be based on your normal wages before the business was affected by the coronavirus outbreak. This does not mean that you will be made redundant, but you will be entitled to a higher redundancy payment if that does happen. 

What happens if my employer becomes insolvent, doesn’t have enough money to pay bills and wages?

Some businesses might become insolvent because they have no assets left and they cannot continue to trade or afford to pay money they owe, including your wages. If your employer becomes insolvent, you can apply to Customer and Local Services for Insolvency Benefit. This will cover your unpaid wages and any redundancy pay that you would otherwise have received. You can also apply for Income Support; or CRESS (if you have lived in Jersey less than 5 years)

How will the scheme work for employees on zero hours contracts?  

The scheme is designed to support your normal wages as far as possible. Because of the downturn in the economy, many businesses have asked their workers to agree a reduction in wages or hours. If you have a zero hours contract but normally work regular hours you are likely to have the right to maintain those hours. You and your employer should discuss and agree to any reduction in the number of your hours. If your hours vary from week to week, your employer should try to pay you in line with your average hours. Your employer could ask you to agree a reduced number of average hours. If you do not regularly work and your work is very casual the scheme will not cover you.

Can my employer hold back some of my wages as an administration fee because they need to apply for the government payroll scheme?   

No, your employer must pay you the wage that you have agreed with them. They cannot make any extra deductions because they are applying for the government scheme.

My employer has applied for phase 1, they have said they will pay us the £200 per week given by the Government, and will pay the difference to make up our wages, but the money they use to make up the difference they would like to employees to pay back. Can they do this ?     

No. Under Phase 1 on the scheme £200 per week was provided for by Government. The scheme is to provide assistance to pay wages/salary that were due in March 2020. Once wages have been paid there is no outstanding debt to the employer. Any money received by an employer under the Scheme can be re-claimed by the Government if the employer breaks the rules of the scheme. You should notify Government if your employer asks you to repay the money.

What if I’ve got accommodation with my job?  

Part of the eligibility for employers to use the Scheme is that they must agree to keep their workers in job-related accommodation. This applies even if the employer makes you redundant.

Will the Scheme help me if I can’t attend the workplace because I have an underlying health condition and I am in the severely vulnerable category?

Yes, the Scheme includes workers who need to be shielded because they have a health condition that means they are severely vulnerable to coronavirus.  Talk to your employer if they have not included you in the Scheme.

Will I still get paid if I’m sick?  

If you are ill and are not able to work, you can apply for Short Term Incapacity Allowance in the normal way.  Phone your GP – do not visit your surgery unless your GP tells you to do this.  If you are normally paid by your employer when you are ill, this will be the same.

Can I apply to the Scheme if I am self-employed and my Social Security contributions are not up to date? Or, if I am not required to pay contributions?

Self-employed people are covered by the Scheme as long as they are due to make class 2 contributions in March 2020.  It does not matter if you have not been able to make that contribution yet or have arrears from previous months.

The scheme also covers self-employed people who don’t normally pay class 2 contributions.  For example, this could be because they are over pension age or are looking after a young child.

Payroll Co-Funding Scheme – Employment Law Rights

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