On 17th March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer outlined a raft of temporary business support measures aimed at supporting businesses through the period of disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The main elements are:
- Statutory sick pay
- Payment from day one of Coronavirus absence from work had already been announced. The Chancellor confirmed that the SSP refund would cover the recommended 2 week exclusion period AND that a GP fit note or other confirmation is not required – provided the employer keeps records of the absence
- Businesses with more than 250 employees are not eligible for the SSP rebate
- A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
- Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
- This will be paid by local authorities in April and businesses need not apply
- Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance
- HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
Click this link for more information https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses
Tucked away on the bottom of the page in the above link is The Government’s view that most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics. Business interruption cover is also unlikely to cover closure / loss as a result of legislation if The Government chooses to move away from “advice” to a legal requirement.
IR35 has applied to contractors and employers on the public sector since 2017 and was due to be rolled out the private sector in April. The roll out has been delayed for 12 months to 6th April 2021.
Under IR35, if a contractor is deemed to carry out similar or the same work as a permanent staff member, their employer is required to deduct income tax and national insurance contributions as if they were an employee. The legislation was introduced to ensure workers undertaking similar roles paid the same tax regardless of whether they were an employee or contractor.
The changes to IR35 in the private sector will shift the responsibility of assessing which contractors fall into this category to employers.
Information and guidance is being updated on an almost daily basis. We will highlight and share new developments as and when we are aware of them. As yet, guidance is advisory and not mandatory so employers need to judge how and when to take appropriate action – you may find these sites particularly useful:
Guidance for employers
Stay at home guidance
As ever, we are here to provide support and guidance on all HR and people management issues. We have a contingency plan in place so that service levels can be maintained via remote working and digital connection should the situation escalate.
If you have any specific questions or challenges please contact us.
18th March 2020