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The Kickstart Scheme – what employers need to know

Amongst the numerous measures that the Government introduced to combat the impact of the pandemic, the Kickstart Scheme forms part of UK government’s emergency economic recovery package, “A plan for jobs” and was announced last September. The scheme will fund six month fixed-term jobs for people on Universal Credit aged 16-24 who are at the highest risk of long-term unemployment. So, what does it involve and what do employers need to do to apply for the scheme?

How much funding is available under the scheme?

The Government will cover 25 hours a week of 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage (this amount will vary based on the employee age but can be found at www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates) as well as the costs of employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions. While employers are free to hire participants for more than 25 hours week, they Government will only reimburse participants’ salary for 25 hours per week at the relevant National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage rate, and so any additional hours will be at your own expense. The Government will also make a £1,500 contribution per participant to cover the costs of IT equipment, software licences, administration, management time and providing support with job skills that will help participants to find long-term employment.

Do we have to commit to taking a certain number of employees?

No, while the initial communications about the Kickstart Scheme suggested that employers would have to take on a minimum of 30 employees, this is no longer the case.

The scheme is open to businesses of all sizes, and there is no minimum number of employees you must take.

How does the scheme operate?

If you are interested in participating in the Kickstart Scheme, you should submit an application through the Government website, gov.uk/kickstart. You can also submit an application through a Kickstart Gateway, a local authority, charity, trade body or other organisation that acts as an intermediary and will apply for funding on your behalf. The Kickstart Gateway may also provide employability support to Kickstart participants on your behalf. You can find more information about Kickstart Gateways at www.gov.uk/guidance/find-someone-to-apply-for-a-kickstart-scheme-grant-on-your-behalf.

Once your application has been accepted, a Job Coach at your local job centre will select a number of candidates aged 16-24 who are at risk of long-term unemployment, and you will then interview them and select the most appropriate candidate.

What are the requirements?

Jobs offered under the Kickstart Scheme must be for a minimum of 25 hours a week, pay at least National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage (this amount will vary based on the employee age but can be found at www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates) and should not require successful candidates to undertake extensive training before beginning the job. Jobs offered under the scheme must not replace existing jobs, be used to fill planned vacancies or cause existing employees or contractors to lose their engagement or reduce their hours.

One of the requirements of the Kickstart Scheme is that you provide the successful candidates with support with job skills that will help them to find long-term employment. This could include support with job seeking skills, such as CV and interview preparation. This could also take the form of training to develop their skills, such as teamwork, organisation and communications as part of the role. You can find more information about the requirements of the Kickstart Scheme here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/kickstart-scheme-terms-and-conditions/kickstart-scheme-grant-funding-agreement-terms-and-conditions-for-employers.

How can we find out more?

You can find more information on the Government Kickstart website, kickstart.campaign.gov.uk/

MBM has helped several companies draft employment contracts tailored to the Kickstart Scheme, so please contact the Employment Law and HR team if you are thinking about applying for the Scheme and need an appropriate contract. This will ensure that the contract covers everything that is necessary for the scheme. Please also contact us if you have any further questions about the operation of the scheme. To obtain your free template Kickstart Scheme Contract of Employment please email hannah.roche@mbmcommercial.co.uk including the name of your business, phone number and the number of staff you have.

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