Job Retention Scheme
Employers who cannot maintain employee salaries because operations have been severely affected by COVID-19, can apply for a grant. This will cover 80% of the usual wage costs, up to £2,500 per month. It will also cover the associated Employer NI contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions. The employee is placed on furlough – find out more about the furlough process here.
Employers can claim for employees added to the payroll on or before 19 March 2020 using the online system here. To access the system, you will need the Government Gateway User ID and password provided when registering for PAYE online.
On 29 May, the Chancellor updated the furlough scheme and confirmed that the scheme will continue until the 31 of October 2020. From 1 August employers will be required to pay the NI and pension contributions for their furloughed employees. From 1 Sept, employers will also be required to pay 10% of their furloughed employees salary which increases to 20% on 1 October.
However from 1 July, employers will have the flexibility for furloughed employees to work part-time whilst continuing to be paid for the days they don’t work as part of the furlough scheme. Employees must apply to furlough employees by 10 June 2020 in order to qualify for the scheme.
You can check which employees you can put on furlough here
Sick Pay Relief
Employers have to make sure that employees and self-employed people can take the necessary time off to stay at home and Statutory Sick Pay and Universal Credit have changed to help you support them.
These may be relevant to those people having to self-isolate due to having coronavirus. It can also apply to those who have been advised to stay at home to shield themselves and those who care for someone who is self-isolating.
The changes mean that anyone with the virus who can no longer work, is eligible for Statutory Sick Pay from day one. This is changed from the previous arrangement of four days. Employers are asked to use their discretion about what evidence, if any, they require. It is possible for employees to obtain evidence from NHS 111 Online but they do not need to get a sick note from their doctor.
A minimum Income Floor will not apply to anyone who is self-employed claiming Universal Credit who has to stay at home or has COVID-19. This will last for the period that they are affected. This is also known as an assumed level of income.
Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for employees who cannot work due to COVID-19. This will be refund of up to two weeks per employee. However, the system is not running yet so keep checking here to find out when you can claim.
The online service is now live for small and medium sized employers to recover Statutory Sick payments (SSP) that they have made to their employees. This means they will receive repayments at the relevant rate of SSP that they have paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020. You can also now claim for employees who are self-isolating because they’ve been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that they’ve come into contact with someone with COVID-19.
Employers should keep accurate records of all claims including details of dates, length of sickness, reason for the absence and their NI number.
For more information on claiming back Statutory Sick Pay for your employees click here
Working practice guidance for businesses
It is essential that businesses play their role in the efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here are some practical steps which employers can take:
- Make every possible effort to allow employees to work at home. Where this is not possible, you should comply with the official social distancing guidelines.
- Employers are required to support employees who are vulnerable or are living with vulnerable family members. Advice is available here
- Employers should consider the need for all operations to continue in light of social distancing guidelines. They should take action to reduce the risk of transmission.
- Employees who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should stay at home. Employers should send any home employees who show signs of symptoms or who live with someone who has them.
- Employers are required to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment in consultation with employees or trade unions
- Employees must maintain a 2 metre social distance at all times, wherever possible and where this is not possible, risks should be minimised with the use of face masks and gloves
- If employees are in the workplace, they should have access to hand washing facilities. They should be encouraged to wash their hands regularly and use tissues when sneezing.
- Employers should also arrange for surfaces and objects to be disinfected regularly during the working day
Guidance to provide employers with further advice to make work places as safe as possible is available here
Guidance for accommodation providers is available here
For more information for employers and businesses on Human Resources support, click here.