A key consideration for many businesses will be employment costs and staff safety.
Significant steps have been taken by the Government to help businesses protect jobs by introducing measures that seek to subsidise wages and provide refunds for those on sick pay as a result of the Coronavirus.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Chancellor has announced a scheme to reimburse up to 80 per cent of the cost of wages for ‘furloughed workers’ up to £2,500 per employee per month.
This scheme will initially run for three months from 1 March 2020 and will be backdated. The Scheme will be administered by HMRC and all UK businesses and charities will be eligible.
We have provided more details of this scheme in a helpful Q&A, which can be found by clicking here.
Further guidance has also been produced by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), which can be found here.
If businesses are unable to wait until then they can seek immediate financial assistance via the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support cash flow.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Anyone who contracts Coronavirus, or who is required to self-isolate under the Government’s current guidance may be entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP).
Only qualifying employees, whose average weekly earnings are above £118 are entitled to SSP. SSP is paid at a rate of £94.25 per week.
Full details of the new measures relating to SSP can be found in our earlier guidance by clicking here.
The Government has provided further advice to employees, which can be found by clicking here.
Contractual Sick Pay
It may be necessary to pay additional sick pay in circumstances where this is provided for in a contract of employment, in the employee handbook, or even where it is usual practice to do so.
Layoffs owing to reduced work
It is possible that many businesses will see a reduced workload as a consequence of Coronavirus.
In these circumstances, and where allowed for in the contract of employment, employees can be laid off temporarily.
Employees who are laid off must receive a guaranteed payment of up to £29 a day and a maximum of £145 in a three-month period. After four weeks, employees may be able to request that they are made redundant.
In most cases, businesses are likely to make use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme that it is now available to employers.
Here to Help
If you require assistance with your payroll or have queries regarding any of these measures, please give us a call. Our Payroll and HR teams are dedicated to helping businesses and their employees during this challenging time.