£4.6 Billion in new Lockdown Grants

The Chancellor has today announced that retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will receive a fresh round of grants to help them cope with the new lockdown measures. If a business is forced to close as a result of the restrictions, they will be entitled to:

£4,000 if the property they occupy has a rateable value of £15,000 or less
£6,000 if the property they occupy has a rateable value of be- tween £15,000 and £51,000
£9,000 if the property they occupy has a rateable value of over £51,000

See https://www.gov.uk/government/news/46-billion-in-new-lockdown-grants-to-support-businesses-and-protect-jobs for more de-tails.

The grants are per property and administered by local authorities in England. If a client is based in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you should check with the relevant authority to check the available support.

Central Government have also made additional funds available to local authorities to make discretionary payments to affected busi-nesses in their area. You should check with the relevant authority to see what support might be available to you.

3rd SEISS Grant for Self Employed

Full details of the third SEISS grant to support self-employed people affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) have been published on GOV‌‌.UK.  

The rules on who is eligible to claim have changed. However, your clients will still need to have submitted a Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019 showing self-employment income in order to claim (unless one of the existing exceptions applies).  

The third grant, which offers 80% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single taxable instalment capped at £7,500, will be available covering the period from 1 November 2020 to 29‌ ‌January 2021. Self-employed people who are eligible and in need of support will be able to claim the third grant at any time from 30‌ ‌November 2020 to 29‌ ‌January 2021.  

Help your clients get ready

  • Check who is eligible to claim as this is different to the previous SEISS grants. Go to GOV‌‌.UK and search for ‘Self Employment Income Support Scheme’. 
  • Be aware that, like SEISS 1 and 2, your Accountant cannot claim this grant on behalf of you; you must do so yourself. If your Accountant tries to make a claim on a client’s behalf, it will trigger a fraud alert that will delay the payment. Applying online is quick and easy. Similar to the process for SEISS 1 and 2, it takes just 5 minutes and you can do it on a smartphone. 

Who is eligible 

To make a claim for the third grant, you must meet a number of conditions, and make an honest assessment about whether you reasonably believe your trading profits will be significantly reduced due to coronavirus.  

As previously, the third grant will also be subject to Income Tax and self-employed National Insurance and must also be reported on 2020 to 2021 Self Assessment tax returns.  

As before, to make a claim for the third grant, you must: 

  • be a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership. You cannot claim the grant if you trade through a limited company or a trust 
  • have traded in both the tax years 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020.

For the third SEISS grant you must also: 

  • either be currently trading but are impacted by reduced activity, capacity or demand, or have been previously trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus  
  • declare that they intend to continue to trade, and that you reasonably believe that the impact on your business will cause a significant reduction in your trading profits
  • only claim if the reduction in profits is caused by reduced business activity, capacity or demand, or inability to trade due to coronavirus – reduction in profits due to increased costs (such as having to buy masks) does not count for this purpose.  

When deciding whether the reduction is significant, you will need to consider their wider business circumstances.

We expect claimants to make an honest assessment about whether they reasonably believe their trading profits will be significantly reduced compared to what they would otherwise expect to achieve during this period. 

The business must have been impacted on or after 1 November 2020. You must keep evidence to show the impact and reduction in your business activity across the qualifying period. 

More information 

For more information and examples to help you check eligibility to claim, go to GOV‌‌.UK and search for ‘Self Employment Income Support Scheme’. 

HMRC contacting all self-employed people in the UK that may be eligible to let them know about the third grant.  

There will also be a fourth grant (covering the three-month period from Feb‌‌ruary 2021 to April 20‌‌21). We’ll tell you more about that nearer the time, including how much it will be and the rules for claiming. 

If you need any assistance on this, please do not hesitate to contact Bryan.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme continued….

You can now claim for periods starting 1 November under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which is running until the end of March for all parts of the UK.

You will still need to submit all final claims for periods up to 31‌‌‌ ‌October on or before 3‌‌‌‌0 November.

Make sure you have the latest information by joining the live Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme webinar, which includes:

  • who can claim 
  • who you can claim for
  • how to calculate what you can claim
  • how to make a claim for all periods.

HMRC will continue to update their webinars to reflect the latest information as it becomes available.

Register here 

HMRC are also running monthly webinars on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme. Get the latest information on: 

  • who can claim 
  • who you can claim for
  • how to make a claim 
  • what you may be entitled to, and more.

Register here

You can ask questions during all their live webinars using the on-screen text box.

HMRC’s webinars are regularly updated to provide the latest government guidance on changes as they develop.

If you would like us to complete your claim for you, or offer any advice, please do contact Lissa.

Extension of Furlough Scheme

In response to the new national lockdown the CJRS has been extended… 

As you are likely aware the Government announced, on the 31 October, a new national lockdown will be imposed from the 5 November until at least the 2 December.

Please be aware that the Government are still clarifying their position, we seek to keep you updated as new facts come to light.

This lockdown sees the Government readopt the ‘Stay at Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives’ mantra used back in March. In practice this will mean:

  1. People should stay at home, except for specific purposes (such as food shopping)
  2. People should not gather with those outside of their household
  3. Certain businesses and venues must close (see below)

To help support businesses and workers HMRC have announced that they are extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) (Furlough Scheme). The scheme will now be open until December (HMT have not yet provided a specific date). The extended period will see employees receiving 80% of their current pay for hours not worked (capped at £2,500 per month). Any employee who has been on an employer’s payroll at 30 October will be able to be enrolled on the extended CJRS. Employers can reduce employees’ hours in line with rules implemented for the CJRS since 1 July (which were intended to allow employers to gradually bring employees back from furlough). It is not necessary for an employer to have previously used the CJRS to claim. All employers who intend to use the extended scheme should explain this to affected employees and seek to gain their consent to being furloughed (or to continuing to be on furlough). As the CJRS has been extended the implementation of the JSS has been delayed until the CJRS ends.

A series of grants, worth up to £3,000 per month will be made available in England to premises forced to close. These grants are being provided under the Local Restrictions Support Grant scheme. In addition to this, local authorities are being given additional funds to help support businesses in their area. You should check your local authority’s websites for up to date information.

Mortgage payment holidays have also been extended. Additional guidance on this is expected tomorrow (Monday 02 November).

Businesses required to close
Restaurants, bars and pubs will be required to close but can continue to offer takeaway services. In addition, the following businesses will be required to close:

  1. all non-essential retail (clothing, electronics, betting, tobacco and vape shops, betting shops, tailors, car washes, vehicle showrooms and travel agents)
  2. indoor and outdoor leisure facilities (gyms, swimming pools, gold courses, dance studios, shooting ranges and stables/riding centres)
  3. entertainment venues (theatres, cinemas, bingo halls, casinos, zoos and animal attractions)
  4. personal care facilities (hair, beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, non-medical acupuncture and tanning salons)

Non-essential businesses can continue to offer delivery and click and collect services.

We will remain operating during this lockdown and the office will be manned during normal office hours to enable to you drop your records and information in as normal.

Please do contact us by email or telephone at this time if it is easier for you as most of the staff are working from home as of Thursday.

Contacts: Tony, Chrissie, Chris, Anne, Bryan, Lissa, Carol

New Job Support Scheme and SEISS Grant extension

Job Support Scheme

The Job Support Scheme (JSS) will open on 1‌‌‌ ‌November and run for six months, until 30‌‌‌ ‌April 2021. The government has said it will review the terms of the scheme in January 2021. There are two variations to JSS – JSS Open and JSS Closed.

The UK government announced it will significantly increase the generosity and reach of its winter support schemes to ensure livelihoods and jobs across the UK continue to be protected in the difficult months to come, supporting jobs and helping to contain the virus.

In recognition of the challenging times ahead, the Chancellor said he would be increasing support through the existing Job Support and self-employed schemes.

JSS Open will provide support to businesses that are open where employees are working shorter hours due to reduced demand. Employees will need to work at least 20% of their usual hours. Employers will continue to pay employees for the hours they work, and the UK government will pay a contribution of 61.67% of the usual pay for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £1,541.75 per month. Employers will pay 5% of the usual pay for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £125 per month, and can top this up further if they choose. This means employees should receive at least two thirds of their usual pay for hours not worked.

The caps are reduced according to the proportion of hours not worked. Further guidance on this will be available on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK shortly.

Employers will need to cover all employer National Insurance and pension contributions.

JSS Closed will provide support to businesses whose premises are legally required to close as a direct result of coronavirus restrictions set by one of the four governments of the UK. This includes premises restricted to delivery or collection-only services from their premises, and those restricted to providing food and/or drinks outdoors.

For JSS Closed, the UK government will fund two thirds of employees’ usual wages for time not worked, up to a maximum of £2,083.33 per month. Employers will not be required to contribute, but they can top up the government’s contribution if they choose to. Employers will still need to cover all employer National Insurance and pension contributions.

You or your clients will be able to make your first JSS claim in arrears from 8‌‌‌ ‌December, for pay periods ending and paid in November. We’ll let you know more about how to make a claim by the end of this month.

Employees will be able to check if their employer has made a Job Support Scheme claim on their behalf through their online Personal Tax Account. Employees can set up a Personal Tax Account on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK, by searching ‘Personal Tax Account: sign in or set up’.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) Grant Extension

As part of support for businesses through the coronavirus pandemic, the UK government has increased the support available under the SEISS Grant Extension doubling the value of the first grant.

This brings support for the self-employed in line with that for employers under the Job Support Scheme Open.

The value of the first SEISS Grant Extension, covering the period November 2020 to the end of January 2021, will double. This means that the UK government will provide an initial SEISS grant based on 40% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment, and capped at £3,750 in total.

To ensure that support will be targeted to those who most need it, SEISS Grant Extension will be available to self-employed individuals who temporarily cannot trade as well as those continuing to trade and facing reduced demand due to COVID-19.

HMRC will provide full details about claiming and applications in guidance on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK in mid-November.

Job Retention Bonus (JRB)

You or your clients will be able to claim a one-off payment of £1,000 for every eligible employee you furloughed and claimed for through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), kept continuously employed until at least 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021 and who meets the other eligibility criteria. Employers do not have to pay this money to their employee.

You or your clients will be able to claim the bonus between 15‌‌‌ ‌February and 31‌‌‌ ‌March. To do this you must have submitted PAYE information for the period up to 5‌‌‌ ‌February 2021 on time.

Further information on eligibility and when you can claim can be found on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK by searching ‘Job Retention Bonus Guidance’ and further guidance on the claim process will be published by the end of January 2021.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – closes on 31‌‌‌ ‌October

Please note that this scheme closes on 31‌‌‌ ‌October and employers will need to make any final claims on or before 30‌‌‌ ‌November. Employers will not be able to submit or add to any claims after 30‌‌‌ ‌November.

From 1‌‌‌ ‌October, the UK government has paid employers 60% of usual wages up to a cap of £1,875 per month for the hours furloughed employees do not work.

You or your clients will continue to pay your furloughed employees at least 80% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Employers need to fund the difference between this and the CJRS grant themselves.

The caps are proportional to the hours not worked. For example, if an employee is furloughed for half their usual hours in October, employers are entitled to claim 60% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work, up to £937.50 (half of £1,875 cap). Employers must still pay their employee at least 80% of their usual wages for the hours they don’t work, so for someone only working half their usual hours they’d need to pay them up to £1,250 (half of £2,500 cap), funding the remaining portion themselves. For help with calculations, search ‘Calculate how much you can claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ on GOV‌‌‌‌‌.UK.

Employers will also continue to pay employer National Insurance and pension contributions from their own funds.

Employers must keep the records that support the amount of CJRS grant they have claimed in case HMRC needs to check it. Employers can now view, print or download copies of their previously submitted claims by logging onto their CJRS service on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK.

Claimed too much in error?

It’s important that employers check each claim is accurate before submitting it, and we would also recommend checking previous claims and repaying any amount over-claimed so you will not have to pay interest and penalties if we subsequently discover you have claimed too much.

If you or your client have claimed too much CJRS grant and have not already repaid it, you must notify us and repay the money by the latest of whichever date applies below:

  • 90 days from receiving the CJRS money you’re not entitled to
  • 90 days from the point circumstances changed so that you were no longer entitled to keep the CJRS grant.

If you or your client do not do this, you may have to pay interest and a penalty as well as repaying the excess CJRS grant. For more information on interest search ‘Interest rates for late and early payments’ on GOV‌‌‌‌‌.‌‌‌UK.

How to let us know if you have claimed too much

You or your client can let us know as part of your next online claim without needing to call us. If you or your client claimed too much but do not plan to submit further claims, you can let us know and make a repayment online through our card payment service or by bank transfer – go to ‘Pay Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grants back’ on GOV‌‌‌‌‌.‌‌‌‌‌‌UK.

Further support

Guidance and live webinars offering more support on changes to CJRS, JSS and JRB and how they impact you or your client are available to book online – go to GOV‌‌‌‌‌.UK and search ‘help and support if your business is affected by coronavirus’.

Our phone lines and webchat remain very busy, so the quickest way to find the support you need is on GOV‌‌‌‌‌.UK. This will leave our phone lines and webchat service open for those who need them most.

Protect yourself from scams   

Stay vigilant about scams, which may mimic government messages as a way of appearing authentic. Search ‘scams’ on GOV‌‌‌‌‌.UK for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact. You can also forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and texts to 60599.

If you need any assistance on any of the above issues, please do not hesitate to contact Chris.

New Coronavirus Job Support Scheme

Yesterday, the Chancellor announced significant changes to the Job Support Scheme (JSS), which will have a positive effect on many businesses affected by the pandemic. 

Old Scheme

As a reminder, the old scheme required employees to work a minimum of a third of their normal working hours, which the employer would pay as normal and then any hours not worked would be subsidised by the government; the employer and the employee in equal parts (one third each).  The employer would be responsible for paying all pension and NI contributions associated with all paid hours.

So, as a minimum, if the employee worked 33%, then there would be a 67% short fall in normal wages.  Of this 67%, the shortfall would have been shared:  the government 22%; the employer 22% and the employee would have been unpaid by 23%.  Meaning that the employee would have received a minimum of 77% of normal pay and that you as an employer would have been responsible for paying 55% of normal hours, plus the NI and pension contributions for the 77% of hours.

 New Scheme

The new scheme requires employees to work a minimum of 20% of their normal working hours, which the employer will pay as normal.  For the remaining 80% of unworked hours, the employer will be obliged to contribute 5% (4% of total normal hours); the government 62% (49.6% of total normal hours) and the employee will be unpaid for 33% (26.3% of total normal hours).  This means that the employee receives a minimum of 73.6% of normal pay under the scheme.  

The government contribution is capped at £1,541.75 (gross) per month.

The scheme is available to all regions, not just those in higher COVID alert areas.  For those businesses instructed to close by law, they are still able to claim 67% of wages without the requirement for employer contribution.

All other criteria associated with the original scheme remains the same, including that all claims will be paid in arrears, so it’s worth considering this in terms of cash flow.

Cost Illustrations

We have put together some illustrations of what the cost implications would be to you as an employer when using the scheme, and without.  So that you can make an informed decision that is best for your business.

As a reminder, the scheme supports short-time working. 

Costs when NOT using the Job Support Scheme

Costs 100% hours worked   50% hours worked 20% hours worked
Gross Pay   £2000.00 £1000.00 £400.00
Employer Pension Contribution   £60.00 £30.00 £12.00
Employer NI Contribution   £174.98 £36.98 £0.00
Total Cost   £2234.98 £1066.98 £412.00

Costs when using the Job Support Scheme – based on 20% of hours worked

Gross Pay for 20% of hours worked   £400.00
Employer Pension Contribution for 20% of hours worked   £12.00
Employer NI Contribution for 20% of hours worked   £0.00
TOTAL NORMAL COST FOR 20% OF HOURS WORKED   £412.00
The remaining unworked 80% of normal hours is split between the Employer (4%); JSS (49.6%) and Employee (26.3%)
Employer Contribution – 4%   £80.00
Additional Employer NI (based on 49.6% JSS & 4% Employer Contribution)   £102.12
Additional Employer Pension Contribution (based on 49.6% JSS & 4% Employer Contribution)   £32.16
TOTAL ADDITIONAL COSTS   £214.28
TOTAL COST TO EMPLOYER   £626.28

From this, you can see that it costs the employer £214.28 (52%) more to use the scheme in this scenario than not to. 

Costs when using the Job Support Scheme – based on 50% of hours worked

Gross Pay for 50% of hours worked   £1000.00
Employer Pension Contribution for 50% of hours worked   £30.00
Employer NI Contribution for 50% of hours worked   £36.98
TOTAL NORMAL COST FOR 50% OF HOURS WORKED   £1066.98
The remaining unworked 50% of normal hours is split between the Employer (2.5%); JSS (31%) and Employee (16.5%)
Employer Contribution – 2.5%   £50.00
Additional Employer NI (based on 31% JSS & 2.5% Employer Contribution)   £101.71
Additional Employer Pension Contribution (based on 31% JSS & 2.5% Employer Contribution)   £22.11
TOTAL ADDITIONAL COSTS   £173.82
TOTAL COST TO EMPLOYER   £1240.80

From this, you can see that it costs the employer £173.82 (16.29%) more to use the scheme in this scenario than not to.  But the more hours that are worked, the more cost effective it is for the employer.

In both scenarios the costs are higher than if you simply placed the employee on short-time working and paid them only for the hours worked.  But it is a significantly enhanced package than that offered previously.

*These figures are an illustration based on the information we have available of the scheme at this present time.  They may be subject to change as more information becomes available.

How to stay mentally healthy at work

We all have the tendency to work-work-work and forget about ourselves. That’s okay on occasion, but not on the long run, so it’s good to keep your mental health in check to avoid running into health problems. Here are 6 tips to stay mentally healthy at work.

1. Fresh air and physical exercise

Fresh air and physical exercise can have a huge impact on mental health and has been proven to prevent and manage depression. So instead of sitting at your desk (at home or in the office) for your lunch break, make sure you get up and get outside for a quick walk to refresh both your body and mind. If you can do this with a friend or your partner, then it will help you relax. If the weather is too bad to go outside, get away from your work area and relax. Anything that takes your mind of work is good.

Did you know?

Poor mental health increases the risk of burnout. According to 2019 data, 5 out of 10 people has experienced a burnout, in most cases caused by the lack of control and power, boredom or chaos, a heavy workload, or a combination of these causes. If you’re mentally healthy you’ll be able to cope better with these workplace problems.

2. Plan and organise

Being disorganised can add to stress levels, reduce your productivity, and cause you to fall behind with work projects – which can make your workload seem even more overwhelming. Take a few minutes at the beginning of your workday to plan out your work for the day. Use this time to ensure long-term projects are scheduled properly so that you have enough time to do everything effectively. If you manage others, make sure their workload is organised properly too, and that any deadlines and commitments are clearly defined.

Don’t beat yourself up if you fall short of the target

3. Eat healthy and stay hydrated

Eat at least four healthy lunches in a working week and keep a water bottle at your desk to drink at least a litre of water a day. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall short of the target.

4. Keep things in perspective

It’s easy to make mountains out of mole hills at work. This is particularly true when either our job is very important to us and/or when we have been in the same work role for a number of years. In both cases it’s easy to blow things out of proportion, when we should just be letting some things go.

Remember where work ends and your home life begins

5. Allocate time for the things you enjoy

Whether it’s reading a book, practising yoga or joining a night class to develop a new skill you’ve always wanted to learn, finding activities that you enjoy and that enable you to relax outside of work is incredibly important. It’s all about scheduling in some ‘me time’, just as you would any other appointment or commitment.

6. Balance your work and personal life

Work the hours required and create mental and physical boundaries to reduce work/home spill-over stress. In other words, remember where work ends, and your home life begins. If you work from home, keep work-related items in a room where you can shut the door at the end of the day, so closing it away and keeping it separate from your home environment.

The latest on Coronavirus COVID-19: New 3-Tier Alert System & Extension to Job Support Scheme

COVID-19 3 TIER ALERT SYSTEM

Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced the introduction of a 3-tier alert system in England for local restrictions, in a bid to avoid another national lockdown.

The 3 tiers are as follows:

LEVEL   RESTRICTIONS
MEDIUM     Rule of 6 indoors & outdoors. Pubs & restaurants to close at 10pm.  
HIGH     No household mixing indoors. Rule of 6 outdoors – including private gardens.  
VERY HIGH         No household mixing indoors or outdoors. Pubs/bars not able to operate as a restaurant will be forced to close. Avoid travelling in and out of the area – including overnight stays elsewhere. Each local authority will decide whether to close other businesses like gyms; casinos; leisure centres and other businesses.

The majority of England is at the ‘medium’ alert level at the moment.  Those districts that were already operating under local restrictions, were automatically placed into the ‘high’ alert category (plus a couple of others identified as a high risk during the process).  The only borough to be considered ‘very high’ at the moment is Liverpool.  However, it is likely that if the numbers don’t improve that others will follow suit.

Boris Johnson stressed that there was a commitment to keep all retail outlets, schools and universities open.

For those businesses forced to close as a result of being in the ‘very high’ alert category, the government has made the following financial support available:

·         Coronavirus Job Support Scheme (until 31st October)

·         Job Support Scheme (after 1st November), offering 67% of wages to those unable to work.

·         Local Restrictions Support Grant scheme increased to up to £3,000 per month and can claim after 2 weeks rather than 3.

·         £1 billion investment in local track and trace and enforcement.

EXTENSION TO JOB SUPPORT SCHEME

On Friday 9th October, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced an extension to the Job Support Scheme which would support businesses that were forced to close by law as a result of further local restrictions.

The scheme has been extended to cover 67% of wage costs up to a maximum of £2,100 (gross) per month for each employee that is unable to work as a result of local restrictions.  There is no requirement for the employer to contribute to wages, but they will be responsible for paying the NI and pension contributions.  Each employee must be unable to work for a minimum of 7 days.   

As soon as the area is released from local ‘high alert’ restrictions and can technically open again, then this additional support will be withdrawn.  Businesses will then be able to use the original Job Support Scheme for help.

As per the Job Support Scheme, this additional support will be available from 1st November for a period of 6 months.

If you need any assistance with the JSS, please contact Lissa.

Struggling to pay your self-assessment for 2019-20

As announced by the Chancellor last week, Self Assessment customers can now apply online to spread the cost of their tax bill into monthly payments without the need to call HMRC.

The online self-serve ‘Time to Pay’ service, has been increased to £30,000 for Self Assessment customers, to help ease any potential financial burden they may be experiencing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Once you’ve completed your tax return for the 2019-20 tax year, you can use the online self-serve ‘Time to Pay’ service through GOV.UK to set up a direct debit and pay any tax that is owed in monthly instalments, up to a 12-month period.

If you wish to set up your own self-serve ‘Time to Pay’, you must meet the following requirements:

  • no outstanding tax returns
  • no other tax debts
  • no other HMRC payments set up
  • your Self Assessment tax bill is between £32 and £30,000
  • it is no more than 60 days since the tax was due for payment. 

If you do not meet these requirements, you might still qualify for Time to Pay, but you will need to call HMRC to set this up.

If you set up a ‘Time to Pay’ arrangement, you will have to pay interest on the tax paid late. Interest will be applied to any outstanding balance from 1 February 2021.

If you need any further assistance on any of the above issues, please contact Bryan.

As it stands, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or ‘furlough’ comes to an end on 31st October 2020. So, with just over 5 weeks to go, you may be thinking about your options going forward.

Reminder of CJRS claim for October

From 1st October, the employee will still receive 80% of salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month, however, the government contribution will be a maximum of 60%. 

This means that the maximum amount an employer can claim via the CJRS is 60% of salary or a maximum of £1,875 (gross) per month.

Employers are expected to pay the additional 20% and all NI and pension contributions for hours worked and not worked (up to 80% or a maximum of £2,500 gross per month).

All claims must be submitted by 30th November 2020. This includes all adjustments to previous claims.

Job Retention Bonus

Businesses will receive a one-off payment of £1,000 for every previously furloughed employee that is still employed as of 31st January 2021. This bonus will be taxable.

To be able to claim, employees must have earnt at least £520 per month, from November to January, or £1,560 average earnings across 3 months. For those with average earnings, the employee must have had some earnings in each of the 3 months – November, December and January. These earnings must have been paid and reported to HMRC via RTI.

All previously furloughed workers are eligible, so if they met the criteria previously, you will be able to claim. This includes: fixed term contracts; office holders; company directors; agency workers and umbrella companies.

Those employees who returned from statutory parental leave or being mobilised as a military reservist after 10th June 2020 and were eligible to be placed on furlough and claimed for via the CJRS, will also qualify for the bonus, so long as they meet all the other criteria.

You cannot claim for anyone who is within their notice period.

Claims will be submitted via GOV.UK from February 2021. We believe this will be an online portal, much like the CJRS one. The government have promised to release more information on this by 30th September 2020.

Kickstart Scheme

You could choose to take advantage of the governments Kickstart Scheme. This is where the government contributes 25 hours per week in exchange for you offering anyone between the age of 16 and 24, who is out-of-work and claiming Universal Credit, a six-month work placement.

The Jobcentre will identify people at risk of long-term unemployment to refer to the scheme, and Jobcentre work coaches will support candidates before and after their placement.

The government aims to have the first placements on offer from November. To register your interest, you can visit http://www.gov.uk/kickstart. Employers interested in offering fewer than 30 Kickstart roles should apply through a representative organisation. This includes Local Authorities, Chamber of Commerce and Trade Bodies.

The scheme will run until at least December 2021 and covers the whole of the UK.

Lay-off or Short-time Working

A temporary reduction in working hours and wages, may be a consideration after furlough has ended. You may not be in the financial position to bring people back full time, or the business just isn’t there yet, so you don’t need them to work.

If your contracts of employment contain these clauses then you can impose either lay-off or short-time working, without agreement from your employees. 

With lay-off, employees can be laid off for up to 4 consecutive weeks (or 6 weeks, of which no more than 3 are consecutive) in a 13-week continuous period and if they have over 1 months’ service they would qualify for statutory guaranteed lay-off pay of 5 days normal pay (pro rata for part-time employees). One thing to be mindful of, is that anyone with over 2 years’ service might be able to claim for a redundancy payment if they have been laid off for more than this.

Short-time working refers to a reduction in working hours which equates to less than half of their normal working hours and pay.

If you do not have these clauses within your contract, then to impose it you would be at risk of a claim for constructive dismissal and/or unlawful deductions from wages. 

However, what you could consider is discussing and agreeing a period of lay-off or short-time working with your employees. Normally, if the situation is explained clearly enough, they know that it is temporary and as an alternative to redundancies, then they are agreeable. In this scenario, it would be advisable to get signed consent to such an agreement and place it on their personal file.

Restructure

It may be that as a result of a decrease in business, or the change in the way you do business, that you need to consider restructuring your organisation. It may be that since employees have been on furlough you have found new, more efficient ways of doing things and so the role has changed or isn’t there anymore.

It’s so important to look at what job roles you have, compared to what you need going forward and make the necessary changes.

Redundancy

As a result, you may need to consider making some redundancies.

In this scenario it is important to follow a fair and proper procedure. Despite the pandemic, there are no allowances within legislation which allow you to cut corners and all employment law should be adhered to as normal.

If you are making less than 20 roles redundant, then there is no set consultation period, it simply must be ‘reasonable’ to allow for meaningful consultation. If you are making 1 role redundant, but more than 1 person is in that role, then you would need to consider pooling these employees together in the process.

It is a complex area and can be expensive to get wrong. So, it is recommended that you get some expert advice if you are thinking of making any redundancies.

The New ‘Normal’

As it looks like the current restrictions are going to last at least another 6 months, you are probably considering how best to do business during this time and what the ‘new normal’ will look like. 

Returning to Business Premises:

You will probably already have this in place, but if you are bringing people back to the business premises, you will need to make sure that you are ‘COVID secure’. Failure to do so could result in fines of up to £10,000 and businesses being closed.

It is important to complete a risk assessment to ensure that you are doing all that you can to keep your employees safe – social distancing; hand wash areas; protection screens; one-way systems etc… There are a number of sector specific guideline documents on the government website to help you. Your H&S advisor will also be able to help.

Working from Home:

With the announcement yesterday that those that can work from home, should work from home, it looks like home working is here to stay – at least for the next 6 months.

Many businesses have found that working from home has been a welcomed shift in culture and are embracing it. Businesses are reporting much higher productivity rates; lower costs and increased employee happiness. Employees like the increased flexibility and autonomy. It’s been reported by Recruitment Agencies that candidates are no longer looking for a 5 day per week, 9am – 5pm job – they want, and are insisting on, increased flexibility in a new role.

Challenges:

The culture of remote working is not without its challenges. Managers and Business Owners are concerned with managing results remotely; keeping people engaged and keeping an eye on employee wellbeing and metal health. All these areas are certainly a concern, but there are a few things you can do to minimise the impact.

How do you manage results with more people working remotely?

Some Managers and Business Owners are really concerned with how you manage performance remotely. They are worried that their employees are not spending all their working day working as they should be. BUT – if they’re getting the job done and getting the results – does it really matter? There are a few things that can help ensure that the results are met:

  • Clear individual KPIs (linked to business KPIs).
  • Regular reviews and conversations.
  • Clear job descriptions.
  • Development plans.
  • Having difficult conversations quickly – nip any negative behaviour in the bud – more likely to fester when WFH.

How do you keep people engaged?

Often, it’s the social side of things that people miss – the chitchat; the team lunches and nights out. Other than being in regular contact, here are some things you can do to keep employees motivated, engaged and feeling part of the team whilst working from home:

  • Virtual wine and cheese tasting evenings.
  • Zoom quizzes.
  • Fancy dress competitions.
  • Smaller teams of up to 6, meeting up for lunch or in the pub for a drink.
  • Sending out small gifts to say thank you for all the effort and to show that they haven’t been forgotten about.

Engagement is about the team sharing a common purpose and working towards that goal. It takes regular constant communication and commitment. The most important things are Trust and Empowerment.

How do you keep an eye on employee wellbeing and their mental health?

  • Regular 1 to 1 meetings are essential.
  • Employee Survey to understand how your employees are feeling.
  • Individual DISC report on remote working to understand how they might adapt to working from home and what their individual challenges might be accordingly to their behavioural preferences.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact Lissa or Chrissie