Government is slowly easing lockdown restrictions, beginning the phased reopening of shops and markets. Outdoor markets and car showrooms can now open, with all other non-essential retail including clothes shops, toy shops, furniture and books shops, tailors, auction houses, photography studios, zoos, safari parks, drive-in cinemas, places of worship for individual prayer and indoor markets are now able to open.
All employers should ensure they follow Covid-19 Secure guidelines for the workplace, which can be found by clicking here. To reopen, businesses should ensure they follow these guidelines for their sector. People should aim to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible.
Test and Trace
Government has launched a Test & Trace service to help stop the spread of the virus. It provides testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) to find out if they have the virus.
It gets in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to help them share information about any close recent contacts they have had. It alerts those contacts, where necessary, and notifies them they need to self-isolate from 14 days since their last contact with the infected person
For more information, click here.
Employers can reduce the risk of co-workers having to self-isolate if a member of staff tests positive for coronavirus by following the COVID-19 Secure guidelines. You should encourage workers to heed any notifications to self-isolate and support them in self-isolation. For full workplace guidance for employers regarding Test and Trace, click here.
Government Support For Businesses
Government has launched a Coronavirus Business Support Finder tool to help businesses and the self-employed determine what financial support is available to them during the pandemic. It takes the form of a short online questionnaire, and can be found by clicking here.
Government has announced it is bringing forward legislation to allow small- and medium- sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay paid for sickness absence due to Coronavirus. It will increase the Business Rates retail discount in England to 100% for all businesses regardless of rateable value in the leisure and hospitality sectors. It will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of Small Business Rate Relief. Businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector with a rateable value of £15,000 to £51,000 will have access to grants of up to £25,000. No businesses in that sector will pay business rates for the next year.
- If you are an eligible business in Darlington, Darlington Borough Council will contact you directly or you can visit their website here.
- If you are an eligible business in Hartlepool, please direct all enquiries to 01429 867677 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you are an eligible business in Middlesbrough and want to apply for the Government grants of £10,000 or £25,000, please visit Middlesbrough Council’s website here and fill out a form.
- If you are a business in Redcar and Cleveland who wants to discuss grants or rate relief, please email email@example.com
- If you are an eligible business in Stockton-on-Tees, please direct all enquiries to 01642 528384 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Government has announced that a 5% top-up to the Small Business Grants Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund will be made available to Local Authorities, which they can use to help small businesses previously outside of the scope of the scheme.
This fund is aimed at small or micro-businesses, with under 50 employees, which have ongoing fixed property-related costs and were trading on 11 March 2020. They must not be eligible for other support schemes and also demonstrate they have seen a significant drop in income due to coronavirus restriction measures. Three levels of grant payments, up to £25,000, can be made. Local Authorities are responsible for administering this grant, so please visit your Local Authority website for the latest information.
Government is bringing forward legislation to allow small- and medium- sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay paid for sickness absence due to Coronavirus. An online portal is now open for applications. For the latest information and to access the portal, please click here.
A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme has launched to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. This is being extended to to small- and medium-sized businesses providing loans of up to £5million with no interest due for the first six months, up from £1.2million. This is being facilitated by the British Business Bank and more details can be found here.
Payments are now being made under this scheme but take six working days from when a claim is submitted and are being automatically paid into the nominated bank account.
If you are awaiting payment, please do not contact HMRC as they will not be able to update them before the six working days have ended. Furloughed employees should not contact HMRC directly as they will not be provided with any information.
A further scheme for medium to large businesses called the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme has been launched for firms with a turnover of more than £45million. For more information can be found by clicking here.
The Bounce Back Loan Scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses borrow between £2,000 and £50,000, up to a maximum of 25% of their turnover, if they have been impacted by the coronavirus. Government will guarantee 100% of the loan, with no fees or interest for the first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to six years.
Businesses cannot apply if they are already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, but they may transfer an existing CBILS loan by arranging it with their lender before 4 November 2020. Businesses can apply now. Click here for more information.
Government has also introduced its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This will allow all UK employers with employees on a PAYE scheme to designate those employees as ‘furloughed workers’. The employer will have access to government support to continue paying part of these furloughed employees’ salaries and protect the employees from redundancy. This has been extended to cover employees that were on a PAYE payroll scheme on or before March 19, 2020 and will run until at least the end of October.
The deadline has passed by which an employer can furlough an employee to complete the full three-week furlough cycle. The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30 June. People on paternity or maternity leave returning to work in the coming months will still be eligible. For more information, click here.
This scheme is now changing and, from August, employers will be asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff. To find out more about the changes, click here.
You can apply for funding by clicking here.
Government Support for the Self-Employed
Government has announced a scheme to allow the self-employed to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months.
Self-employed individuals or members of a partnership can claim if they submitted a self-assessment in 2018/19, traded in 19/20, are currently trading (or would be but for coronavirus), intend to continue trading in 20/21 and have lost profits due to coronavirus. Profits must be less than £50,000 and more than half their income.
This has been extended so that those eligible will be able to claim a second and final grant in August. The grant will be worth 70 percent of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570
If the self-employed in question has not been operating for three years, as long as they have been operating for one year, HMRC will assess them based on this. The three-year assessment is to give a fairer outcome for those operating for that length
Grants will be available from the beginning of June. Applications have been open from May 13, with HMRC telling people the date they can claim from in the communication. If approved, they will receive their payment in six working days For more information, click here.
All businesses and self-employed in financial distress with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC on a case-by-case basis. Call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
The Pensions Regulator has also produced information for employers at this time, about automatic enrolment duties and maintaining pensions contributions, which also outlines information about the Government’s Job Retention Scheme and how this might impact payroll processes and pension contributions. It also includes a useful FAQ which it is regularly updating. Click here for more.
Government is seeking businesses to support the response in other ways, including medical testing equipment; medical equipment design; protective equipment for healthcare workers; hotel rooms; transport and logistics for moving goods and people; manufacturing equipment; warehouse or office space for medical use or storage; expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, engineering or communications; social care or childcare. To offer support, businesses should visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-from-business
Furloughed employees can engage in training, as long as in undertaking the training the employee does not provide services to, or generate revenue for, or on behalf of their organisation. Furloughed employees should be encouraged to undertake training. Where training is undertaken by furloughed employees, at the request of their employer, they are entitled to be paid at least their appropriate national minimum wage for this time. In most cases, the furlough payment of 80% of an employee’s regular wage, up to the value of £2,500, will provide sufficient monies to cover these training hours. However, where the time spent training attracts a minimum wage entitlement in excess of the furlough payment, employers will need to pay the additional wages (see National Minimum Wage Section for more details).
Apprentices can be furloughed in the same way as other employees and they can continue to train while furloughed. However, you must pay your Apprentices at least the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage, National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage (AMW/NLW/NMW) as appropriate for all the time they spend training. This means you must cover any shortfall between the amount you can claim for their wages through this scheme and their appropriate minimum wage.
Full guidance for businesses can be found here.
If you are a business who requires support during this difficult time, please fill out the form below.
For information on healthcare advice for employers, employees and business support, click here.
To support you it may be necessary to request some personal information from you, any information you choose to share with us will be dealt with under our data protection policy which can be found here.