Advice & support for you business

In light of recent events, we will be providing you with the latest information regarding Coronavirus, if you have any concerns please seek help from our HR specialist.

The World Health Organisation has now declared Coronavirus as a global pandemic and the number of cases across Europe continues to rise.

During the uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, we want to assure you we are fully committed to the health and wellbeing of our employees and clients. We have put clear and appropriate measures in place to protect our people and ensure we continue to provide the support and services to our clients and their businesses.

We understand the concerns that you may be facing during this time. We have compiled a list of resources and useful advice to help you and your business respond and prepare for any impacts of COVID-19.

To help manage and contain the risks our HR Director, Emma Parry has answered some important questions to help protect the health and safety of your employees.

Government help and advice

UK Government – COVID-19: Guidance for employers and businesses

How the government is helping business through the COVID-19 crisis:

Loans

  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Working with the British Business Bank, the Chancellor has announced he will be extending the Business interruption Loan Scheme for small and medium sized businesses announced in the Budget last week. The loan scheme makes available loans upto £5million with no interest payable in the first six months.

Grants 

  • Cash Grant for smallest businesses

A cash grant of £10,000 will be available to the smallest businesses delivered by local authorities. Those businesses that pay little or no business rates and are eligible for small business rate relief and rural rate relief will be awarded the cash grant. Advice on these grants will be delivered to local authorities imminently and the funding will be given  from early April. Small businesses eligible for these grants will not need to apply for the cash but will be contacted directly from local authorities.

 

Advice

HMRC Tax Helpline

HMRC have set up a phone helpline to support businesses and self employed people who are concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to Coronavirus.

Find out more: COVID-19 HMRC Tax Helpline

Call the helpline: 0800 0159 559

ACAS: Advice for employers and employees

ACAS are providing regular advice and updates following government guidance and policies for both employers and employees.

Find out more: Acas – Coronavirus advice for employers and employees

World Health Organisation

The WHO have prepared proactive guidance and advice to help employers manage workplaces during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Find out more: World Health Organization – Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19

Self-isolation and sick pay

Employees must receive any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them if they need to self-isolate because:

  • they have coronavirus
  • they have coronavirus symptoms, for example a high temperature or new continuous cough
  • they’ve been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111

Statutory Sick Pay Reimbursement

Businesses with less than 250 employees (as of February 28th 2020) will be refunded in full upto 14 days Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) per eligible employee who has to be off work due to Coronavirus. SSP will be payable form Day 1 due to COVID-19 rather than the usual Day 4. Employers should maintain records of staff absence but should not require employees to produce a fit to work note, an alternative note will be made available shortly through NHS111.

If someone returns from an affected area

Anyone returning from an affected area, for example China or Italy, should self-isolate and either:

Their employer should pay them Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or contractual sick pay while they’re in self-isolation and cannot work.

If an employee needs time off work to look after someone

Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a ‘dependant’) in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations to do with coronavirus. For example:

  • if they have children they need to look after or arrange childcare for because their school has closed
  • to help their child or another dependant if they’re sick, or need to go into isolation or hospital

There’s no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.

If an employee does not want to go to work

Some people might feel they do not want to go to work if they’re afraid of catching coronavirus.

An employer should listen to any concerns staff may have.

If there are genuine concerns, the employer must try to resolve them to protect the health and safety of their staff. For example, if possible, the employer could offer flexible working.

If an employee still does not want to go in, they may be able to arrange with their employer to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave. The employer does not have to agree to this.

If an employee refuses to attend work, it could result in disciplinary action.

If someone becomes unwell at work

If someone becomes unwell in the workplace with coronavirus symptoms, they should:

  • get at least 2 metres (7 feet) away from other people
  • go to a room or area behind a closed door, such as a sick bay or staff office
  • avoid touching anything
  • cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in a bin, or if they do not have tissues, cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow
  • use a separate bathroom from others, if possible

The unwell person should either:

It’s best for the unwell person to use their own mobile phone or computer to access these services.

If someone with coronavirus comes to work

If someone with coronavirus comes to work, the workplace does not necessarily have to close.

The local Public Health England (PHE) health protection team will get in contact with the employer to:

  • discuss the case
  • identify people who have been in contact with the affected person
  • carry out a risk assessment
  • advise on any actions or precautions to take

Find out more about PHE health protection teams on GOV.UK.

If the employer needs to close the workplace

An employer may want to plan in case they need to close the workplace temporarily. For example, making sure staff have a way to communicate with the employer and other people they work with.

Working from home

Where work can be done at home, the employer could:

  • ask staff who have work laptops or mobile phones to take them home so they can carry on working
  • arrange paperwork tasks that can be done at home for staff who do not work on computers

Additional support is available to you during this challenging time.

Contact Emma Parry today for further advice.

A new tax year also brings a new set of tax rules, starting on April 6. We will explain exactly what is changing.

Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (SPBP)

Employees will now be entitled to two weeks’ leave following the death of a child, which subject to meeting the relevant criteria, will be paid at the statutory rate.

  • Leave can be taken as a two week period or split into two separate individual weeks
  • Employees can have more than one instance of SPBP at anytime
  • Eligibility starts from 24 weeks of pregnancy
  • Must be taken within 56 weeks of death
  • 26 weeks of employment service is required for eligibility.

National Living Wage Increase April 2020

The National Living Wage (for over 25 year olds) will increase 6.2% from £8.21 to £8.72.

The National Minimum Wage will rise across all age groups, including:

  • A 6.5% increase from £7.70 to £8.20 for 21-24 year olds
  • A 4.9% increase from £6.15 to £6.45 for 18-20 year olds
  • A 4.6% increase from £4.35 to £4.55 for Under 18s
  • A 6.4% increase from £3.90 to £4.15 for Apprentices

Holiday pay calculation changes 2020

New regulations take effect from April 2020 to ensure workers in seasonal work or with abnormal working hours receive the paid holiday to which they are entitled. 

What Has Changed?

From 6 April 2020 the reference period for calculating holiday pay for variable hours workers will increase from 12 to 52 weeks.

The 52-week reference period will function in the same way as the previous 12-week period:

  • Employers must count back across the last 52 weeks that the employee has worked, and received pay.
  • Weeks in which no pay was received will not be counted towards the 52-week average.
  • In situations where employees have worked for less than 52 weeks, employers should use as many full weeks of work as possible to calculate holiday pay.
  • Contractually obliged overtime worked during the reference period must also be included in holiday pay.

Off-Payroll Working

Commonly known as IR35, new Off-payroll legislation allows HMRC to collect tax & NI from the employer, where a worker provides their services through an intermediary.

The fee payer, public authority, agency or third-party who is responsible for paying the worker’s intermediary must:

  • Calculate a deemed direct payment to account for the employment taxes associated with the contract
  • Deduct those taxes from the payment to the worker’s intermediary
  • Report taxes deducted to HMRC through RTI, Full Payment Submissions (FPS)
  • Pay the relevant employer’s NICs

The fee payer, public authority, agency or third-party who is responsible for paying the worker’s intermediary must NOT:

  • Deduct student loan repayments
  • Deduct Auto-enrolment contributions
  • Pay statutory payments
New right to a written statement of terms

Currently employees who have been continuously employed for more than one month must be provided with a written statement of terms within two months of employment commencing. From 6 April 2020, all new employees and workers will have the right to a statement of written particulars from their first day of employment.

Additional information will have to be included as part of the extended right, such as; working days, variability in hours / days, any paid leave, for example, maternity leave, all benefits, any probationary period, certain information on training.

Budget 2020

Chancellor, Rishi Sunak delivered the much anticipated speech in the House of Commons today, almost five months after its originally scheduled date. Sunak has promised “security today and prosperity for tomorrow”.

Our services are designed to help your business adapt to the upcoming changes and adhere to new policies.