In the face of the massive repercussions of the spread of COVID-19, the Government has put in place several initiatives specifically designed to address the needs of employers. The following is our summary of the help which is currently available.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
A new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will allow employers to claim back up to 80% of the wages of employees and workers who agree to be placed on “furlough” leave, during which they will not be allowed to undertake any work. This is currently available for 3 months and businesses should be able to apply for this relief by the end of April (backdating to 1st March 2020). To find out more visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
Carry Over of Statutory Leave
Under measures introduced on 27 March 2020, workers who have not been able to take all their statutory annual leave entitlement due to the Coronavirus outbreak will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 leave years. This will mean employees can continue working to support the Coronavirus effort without losing their holiday entitlement.
The changes will also ensure all employers affected by COVID-19 have the flexibility to allow workers to carry over leave at a time when granting leave could leave them short-staffed. Click here for more details.
Mental Health Support during the UK Lockdown
People struggling with their Mental Health during the Coronavirus outbreak will now be offered additional online support and practical guidance to help them cope. Leading mental health charities have been given £5 million to expand their support services, alongside the Public Health England offering people guidance on how to look after their wellbeing during this period. Whilst this is not specific to employees, it will allow employers who do not have the benefit of Occupational Health or Employee Assistance Programmes to sign-post affected employees and workers to sources of support.
Suspension of Gender Pay Gap Reporting
This year’s requirement for employers with more than 250 employees to report on their Gender Pay Gap has been suspended. Whilst employers can still choose to report their data, there will be no penalty for those who don’t.
Extension of IR35 Rules Postponed
The implementation of fundamental changes to IR35 rules relating to “off-payroll” workers, which will require employers to operate PAYE deductions for certain sub-contractors who are engaged by a Personal Service Company, but who would otherwise be deemed to be employees, has been postponed for 12 months until 6 April 2021, in order to reduce the administrative burden on employers during the current crisis.
Please bear in mind that the Government is releasing updates daily and the above information may change over the coming weeks. For more information or support in dealing with the employment issues arising from the COVID-19 outbreak, any other HR or Health & Safety issues in general, please call 01942 727 200 to speak to one of our consultants.