Public sector contractors will be eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

03 April 2020

In guidance notes published by The Cabinet Office, it has been confirmed that off-payroll contractors working through Personal Service Companies (PSCs) within public sector organisations, will be eligible for the furlough scheme.

The document, which is six pages in length, makes it clear that any contingent workers, inclusive of those who are on short term contracts or who have hours that vary can apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, where they work within the public sector. There is no indication at the time of publication that this eligibility will be extended to off-payroll workers in the private sector.

The off-payroll workers need to be in the middle of ongoing contracts for central government departments, their executive agencies or non-departmental bodies, in order for them to claim 80% of their pay up to a cap of £2,500 per month, for a minimum period of three months. This will also include any contingent workers in the NHS.

The notes reiterate the fact that the scheme is only available to those who are unable to work due to the outbreak of COVID-19, if, for example, their workplace has temporarily been closed. Where these individuals can work from home, they should continue to do so.

The scheme is available to all types of contingent worker, inclusive of:

  • PAYE
  • Umbrella companies
  • Personal Service Companies (PSCs)

All contingent workers are eligible while they are under their current assignment, regardless of the length of time they have spent in post. However, any contingent workers who would have been let go as a result of their assignment coming to an end, irrespective of the spread of COVID-19, would not be eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Cabinet Office confirmed that the measures have been implemented to protect:

  • The livelihood of contingent workers and avoiding claims of unnecessary Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) form the supply chain
  • Against the risk that some may attend work when they should be self-isolating, thereby potentially infecting wider teams and the broader general public
  • Against the risk of losing critical workers to jobs in other sectors because they are not getting paid
  • Supplier revenue with the intention of keeping them solvent so they remain a part of our ongoing supply chain in the future


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