I wanted to share my thoughts rather sooner this week since updates on both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Support Scheme were announced last Friday: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-extends-self-employment-support-scheme-and-confirms-furlough-next-steps
My first thoughts on the Furlough scheme are that I think it’s very good news that it now enables employees to do some part time work as this often presents problems to both employees and employers. Unfortunately though, it isn’t going to deal with the businesses that are still closed, for example in hospitality, where even having to pay the pension contributions and national insurance could be enough to tip some businesses over the edge.
Also, 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.
The proportion of the furlough pay that will be paid by the government will fall to 70% in September and 60% in October, requiring the employer to top up to 80% in those months. Any part-time work undertaken for the employer should be paid by the employer, with the remaining hours topped up by the furlough scheme. This will make the furlough calculations more difficult!
So, good in parts, like the curate’s egg. Those of you who are interested in provenance it first appears in Kilvert’s diary. A must read if you’ve not done so.
For the SEISS - I’m delighted that the Chancellor has seen fit to extend this for another three months to 31 August. Whilst it’s not going to cover everybody it is at least going to cover the Summer, which is undoubtedly going to be a very difficult period, in a very tentative move back to normality. The terms are broadly the same as the first grant period, so if you were eligible for that you are likely to be eligible for the second claim period, but the grant will be 70% rather than 80% of average earnings capped at £6,570 for the three month period. The SEISS portal will close for claims for March to May on 13 July, and the second claim period will open in August. Disappointingly the scheme still doesn’t cover those who started trading in the 2019/20 tax year, in order to avoid abuse of the system.
Further extensions on deferment of VAT and Pay As You Earn would also be very helpful, together with some definite entitlements to deferred payment terms once the liabilities kick in. Are you listening Mr Sunak?
What does track and trace mean for your business? https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works
In short, if you have brought your staff back into the office and one of your employees is confirmed with Covid-19, the rest of your staff may need to self-isolate at home for 14 days!
If they can work from home you can pay them to work from home.
If they can’t work from home you need to put them onto SSP.
If they start to work from home and then become unwell, you need to put them onto SSP.
Here are some ways in which you may want to protect your business as you start to open the doors and return to your new normal:
• Have as many people working from home as possible – this reduces the risk of your staff getting sick as they move around e.g. on public transport or grabbing a coffee.
• Have a team A and a team B who are not in the office at the same time – therefore if an employee in team A has Covid-19 symptoms, team B can continue to work.
• Ensure that everyone is seated 2m away from anyone else including at walkways, photocopiers and printers.
• Close off communal areas such as kitchens and break out rooms – encourage people to take a walk, eat outdoors in a green space or at their desks.
Here’s a link to the workplace guidance as well: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-workplace-guidance
I promise a more entertaining post on Friday!