COVID-19 – information and links for businesses and employers

The situation around COVID-19 is changing daily and impacting our clients and their businesses in numerous ways causing disruption and uncertainty. To help keep up to date with the emergency measures being put in place by the Government we are sharing updates and advice on our website and social media.

Job preservation scheme – Furloughed workers

All UK businesses are able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those designated workers who would have been laid off or made redundant (subject to the terms of their employment contract).  Available initially for 3 months, salary subsidy will be paid via a new HMRC system, the finer details of which are awaited. These payments only apply where the worker is no longer working within the business. It will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers salaries, up to £2,500 per month. Workers must be notified of this change in status.

Additionally, employers may need to consider making changes to terms and conditions to implement a 20% reduction in pay. Employers must take advice prior to taking such steps as such a change constitutes a change to terms and conditions of employment.

Sick Pay

Small and medium sized employers can reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for absence due to COVID-19 as outlined below:

  • 2 weeks SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
  • Businesses employing less than 250 employees (as at 28th February 2020)
  • Records of staff absences and payments of SSP should be kept but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note

School closures

With schools across the country closed and grandparents perhaps not in a position to help, many parents may need to be at home.  Employees might need to take unpaid “time off for dependants” or “parental leave” whilst they arrange alternative childcare or alternatively, use annual leave.

Employers could consider flexible working: allowing home-working or changing hours to suit childcare. For those employees who are considered “Key Workers” their children should be able to attend school during the closure period. Information on school closures and Key Workers.

If you have any employment concerns or questions please contact Sarah Collier on 01204 527777 or scollier@kbl.co.uk

IR35

The Government have announced that they will postpone IR35 until 6 April 2021. IR35 tax rules mean that businesses with contractors need to determine whether those individuals fall inside or outside of the IR35 regime and are therefore deemed as being an employee or not for the purposes of tax and National Insurance.

Business Rates Support

A 12 month business rates holiday for retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses has been introduced for the 2020/2021 tax year.

Grant funding

A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

Any enquiries on eligibility for the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority.  Guidance for local authorities was released on 20th March 2020.

The government will be providing additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that pay little or no business rates because of the Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR).  This will provide a one off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief to help meet ongoing business costs.

If the business is eligible you will be contacted by your local authority, you do not need to apply.  Funding will be provided to local authorities by government in early April.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The British Business Bank have introduced a Business Interruption Loan Scheme which can provide facilities of up to £5m for smaller businesses facing lost or deferred revenues.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan. The first 12 months of the loan is interest free as interest will be covered by the government. The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.

Deferral of VAT and Tax

Businesses do not need to make a VAT payment during this period.  Any payments due in the next 3 months can be deferred until the end of the tax year.

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.  These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

Insurance

As we see the economy tighten we are also witnessing unprecedented disruption to markets and supply chains. Inevitably businesses will be looking to claim against their insurance policies.

All businesses are being affected and making a claim, along with pursuing an existing claim, is likely to become more challenging as insurance companies examine the validity of each case.  For the latest news from the FCA Insurance and Coronavirus.

If we can help in any way, please call Michael Slater or email mslater@kbl.co.uk.

As a firm, KBL have the benefit of being able to call upon a full range of legal expertise.  Our lawyers work together to give guidance and solutions at this difficult time on concerns around employment, commercial contracts, commercial property, disputes, insurance and insolvency issues.

We are with you, ready to help wherever we can, if you have a query please just email or call, if we can’t help we’ll be able to put you in touch with someone who can.

Tel 01204 527777 / 01254 268790  enquiries@kbl.co.uk

Useful links and tel. numbers

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