April 15, 2020

The Contingent Workers’ Job Retention Scheme

In the midst of all the discussion about the Job Retention (‘furlough’) scheme, another scheme for a different tranche of workers has slipped under the radar for some.  

The Contingent Workers’ Scheme is designed to be a simple tool for supporting non-permanent workers in the public sector during the pandemic. Contingent workers include contractors, freelancers, agency workers and consultants as well as those on fixed term contracts. In this context it will be anyone working in this way in the public sector, including staff in settings such as libraries and museums. Many of them will now be included on payrolls while not being employed by their place of work  

As with the main Job Retention Scheme, this is a way to continue paying workers 80% of their pay for a limited period, beginning 1 March 2020. The government has made it clear that public bodies should not be furloughing their own employees since the pay for these individuals is already publicly funded. However, it’s been less clear what should happen to agency and contract workers in these organisations.  

Essentially, the scheme directly channels funds to eligible workers, using the public budgets already in place for them. Government departments and their executive agencies are bound by the scheme.  Other public bodies are ‘encouraged’ to take the same approach.  

How does it work?  

The scheme has a slightly broader application than the main furloughing project. Contingent workers unable to work ‘due to COVID-19’, e.g. because of sickness, self-isolation or closure of the workplace, will be paid 80% of their pay rate to a maximum of £2,500. In addition, contingent workers can be paid the 80% rate for up to 7 days while they arrange for dependent children to be cared for while schools are closed.  

Suppliers such as agencies, umbrella companies, supplier companies etc. must calculate the 80% amount due – preferably using a timesheet – and submit this directly to the employer for payment.  

The Cabinet Office guidance gives full details here. 

What do I do if this applies to me?   

If you’re an agency or contractor supplying workers to a public body, contact them immediately and discuss what processes they have put in place. Claims can be backdated to 1 March 2020. In some cases, you may be in a position where you take people out of furlough and move them to this scheme.  

To find out more, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly Moorepay team on 0345 184 4615 

**Information in this blog was correct at the time of writing, however with government and legislation changes happening daily some of this may now be out of date.**

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About the author

Audrey Robertson

About the author

Audrey Robertson

HR Consultancy & Insurance Manager, Audrey, has a strong background in HR, Employment Law and related insurances in a career spanning over 15 years leading teams in-house and as a consultant supporting clients across retail, education and the B2B sectors. At Moorepay, Audrey heads up the Policy & HR Consultancy team as well as the insurance claims department. With a strong commitment and investment in employee wellbeing, having studied counselling and coaching, Audrey is a qualified Mental Health First Aider and supports our staff on-site.

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