Measures that employers should be aware of regarding the impact of the COVID-19 are highlighted below.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows all UK employers to access a financial subsidy worth 80% of their workers’ wage costs up to a cap of £2,500 per worker per month. Employers would need class their employees as ‘Furloughed Workers’ to be eligible for the scheme.
Who can claim?
Employers must have:
Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities.
Do employers have to pay the money back?
The word “grant” is used in all the guidance. There is no indication that you need to pay the money back.
How do you work out what you can claim?
Employers need to make a claim for wage costs through this scheme.
You will receive a grant from HMRC to cover the lower of 80% of an employee’s regular wage or £2,500 per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage.
How should employers notify their employees of their decision to designate them as ‘furloughed workers’?
Employers are advised to ensure this is done in writing and explain the reasons as to why this decision was necessary (i.e. due to the current uncertain economic climate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic). We have drafted a letter that employers may wish to refer to.
There will be a need for agreement between the employer and employee where there are no lay-off or short-time working provisions in an employee’s contract. Given the current circumstances however, our view is that employees are unlikely to complain about still being able to receive 80% of their wages while not at work and employees should be informed of this in order to offer them some reassurance during this difficult time.
We have an example letter that can be used, find this in our downloadable resources section.
What happens when the government ends the scheme?
When the government ends the scheme, you must decide, depending on your circumstances, as to whether employees can return to their duties. If not, it may be necessary to consider termination of employment (redundancy).
What if I have any other questions?
This is by far the area where we get the most questions. We cannot include all frequently asked questions – as there are so many. Please call or contact us and we will do all that we can to help you.
Statutory Sick Pay (“SSP”)
Statutory Sick Pay (“SSP”) is normally payable from the fourth day of absence, however if you are self-isolating because of COVID-19 from 13 March, you can now claim SSP from day 1. This includes individuals who are caring for people self-isolating in the same household and are in quarantine.
The rate of SSP is currently £94.25 per week and it is paid by employers for up to 28 weeks.
From Friday 20 March onwards, those who have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate will be able to obtain an “isolation note” by visiting NHS 111 online and completing an online form.
Small employers can reclaim 2 weeks SSP
If you are a small or medium-sized business, you may be entitled to reclaim the costs of SSP for sickness absence due to COVID-19.
This refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who are either ill or been told to self-isolate because of COVID-19.
Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible. The size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020. Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP as a result of COVID-19.
Employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
Employees who have not taken the whole amount of their statutory annual leave entitlement this year will now be able to carry it over for the next two years due to COVID-19 allowing businesses the flexibility to deal with the pressures brought on by the virus more effectively.
The Government has made it clear that employers should ensure that their workers be given every chance to take their holiday and not replaced with pay instead unless they are leaving the company.
HMRC delays introduction of off-payroll rules to private sector (IR35)
The Government has delayed new rules affecting contractors working for the private sector, directly or through an agency, that were set to be introduced on 6 April 2020. The rules coming into effect has been deferred until 6 April 2021.
Would you like to know more?
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