Close-contact businesses, including hair and beauty salons, are due to reopen today.
But Ana Gomes, who owns Splendida Hair and Beauty Salons and who helped set up the Support Jersey Family Business campaign, said that the support package, which allows firms to apply for a refund to offset staff wages, did not provide cover for employees who started work after the pandemic began.
‘It has been very disappointing to find out that one member of staff will have no means to support their family for January and, most likely, February,’ she said.
In a letter to Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham and the Chamber of Commerce, she added: ‘We have now been on lockdown since December and today when I was completing the co-funding scheme, I realised that it does not cover any staff that may have started after March 2020. This [is] absolutely unacceptable as I have employed staff in early June who have lost their employment after the first lockdown, and I hoped to secure these people with employment when we reopened. No one was expecting a second lockdown.’
Under the latest phase of the Co-funded Payroll Scheme, companies cannot claim for more employees than were accounted for in their March 2020 Social Security Schedule. Claims can be made for staff who joined to replace outgoing employees but not for additional staff if the workforce has been expanded.
Murray Norton, chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, said that the organisation has engaged with the government on some areas of co-funding but added that the process was ongoing.
Another member of the Support Jersey Family Business campaign, Rebecca Pirouet, who runs Sorella hairdressing salon, has previously criticised the scheme as outdated and not providing adequate support. She said that ‘the rules need to be changed to make it an employee that’s been with you since October, November or December’.
Penny Downes, who owns Pennyfeathers skincare and beauty salon, added: ‘The Co-funded Payroll Scheme helps towards wages but this isn’t enough this time. After all, since March 23rd we have lost 23 weeks of business in beauty and hair [industries]. I sympathise with the other sectors on the Island who are suffering too, and for much longer.’
The JEP attempted to contact Senator Farnham but had not received a response at the time of going to print.