Do workers as opposed to employees qualify under the Job Support Scheme?

Posted in : Seamus Says - Employment Law Discussion on 8 January 2021
Seamus McGranaghan
O'Reilly Stewart Solicitors
Issues covered: Job Support Scheme; Coronavirus; Employment Status

As organisations may have no option but to put employees on furlough as a result of lockdown, do workers as opposed to employees qualify under the JSS?

Seamus: So the JSS was the planned replacement scheme for the coronavirus job retention scheme that was due to end in November time. Obviously, then, the government made the decision to extend the coronavirus job retention scheme out to the 30th of April. And I did hear Rishi Sunak made some soundings about extending it further again after April. But obviously, there's nothing concrete about that.

So, really, what we're doing at the moment, the JSS scheme was postponed. It may come back in some shape or form. The JSS scheme worked on two elements, JSS open and JSS closed. And I could see potentially if you hit the start of May on some businesses being able to open part ways or provide some facilities and others having to remain closed . . . that one would have been for the likes of the wet bars, as they talk about, being unable to open and things like that. But at the minute, we have the coronavirus job retention scheme. At this point, we should all be fairly well versed in relation to it because we've been working from it from last April.

The position as regards workers, mainly what you're looking at when you come to look at is the likes of casual workers or those sorts of elements, but what the scheme says is that employees on any type of contract are eligible for the coronavirus job retention scheme and that employers will be able to agree to any working arrangements with employees. So it's clear that workers can be included within.

There, you're really talking about most agency workers falling under the definition of workers, short-term casual workers, and some freelance workers as well. So, from the coronavirus job retention scheme, yes.

Scott: Okay. I saw that this week there was an extension to . . . the newly set up self-employment scheme has been extended as well. So there are different options out there, but certainly from what you're saying, gig economy workers, if they're deemed to be workers . . . I know there are a few arguments over that, but legitimately self-employed are all covered by the JRS.

Seamus: Yes. I think through November and December, there were a few scraps that happened between the unions and some employers. I know that Belfast City Council Waterfront Hall gig economy workers were going to be removed off furlough. I think that there was an issue at the Queen's University as well that arose. Now, they appear to have everything resolved, but you can understand the issues that employers will have in respect of casual workers, but there are methods and calculations of how you work out entitlements and things like that set out within the CJRS.


This article is correct at 08/01/2021

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Seamus McGranaghan
O'Reilly Stewart Solicitors

The main content of this article was provided by Seamus McGranaghan. Contact telephone number is 028 9032 1000 or email

View all articles by Seamus McGranaghan