Following the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme FAQs that we previously released, we know a number of employers are considering furloughing some of their employees to help ease the financial burden while the business isn't trading normally.
We also know that while you've been exploring this option and having conversations with your employees, some of you have received the seemingly somewhat cheeky question of:
"Can I work for another business while I'm on furlough leave?"
As we know, to access the 80% grant (which covers the salary, NI contributions and 3% employer pension contributions) the employer needs to register their employee as "Furloughed".
This guidance sheet is intended to provide answers to some of the many questions that we are receiving in regard to Reclaiming SSP. We will update this guidance document regularly and keep updated answers on our website.
What is the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme?
This Scheme has been set-up to repay employers for any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) outgoings to current or former employees who had periods of sickness starting on or after the 13th March 2020.
The Scheme is anticipated to open toward the end of April 2020, similar to the Furlough Scheme the HMRC are designing a new online portal for claims.
This guidance sheet is intended to provide answers to some of the many questions that we are receiving in regard to Essential Work and Key Workers. We will update this guidance document regularly and keep updated answers on our website.
What is Essential Work?
Essential work are tasks that cannot be completed at home and must be completed on-site. The work must be critical to the continued operation of the country or in the COVID response, and without which there would be a significant impact. The government has given us defined Categories in which this work must fall, as discussed below.
This guidance sheet is intended to provide answers to some of the many questions that we are receiving in regard to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We will update this guidance document regularly and keep updated answers on our website.
What is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a ‘temporary’ scheme open to Employers for at least 3 months (with the potential to be extended dependent on the pandemic situation) starting on 1st March 2020.
It is designed to support Employers who have been severely affected by COVID-19. There is no financial limit on what Employers can claim (but there is a cap for how much can be claimed per Employee which is £2500).
You can download these FAQs here:
A number of Employers will have been recruiting or will have recently agreed contracts with new starts.
As we know, most recruitment projects have been postponed until the Autumn (or the next earliest opportunity) as travel has been vastly restricted, the ability to complete any interviews face-to-face has been removed (unless you're open to video conferencing) and it would prove extremely difficult to agree new contracts during this time due to uncertainty.
However, what about those Employers who have already agreed new starts? New Employees that were due to start working for you soon and have already resigned from their previous Employer - what can we do about them?
We have received a number of questions about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or the "80% Scheme" - as it's being referred to.
There have been few details released yet and so we can only offer our opinion at this stage. We will upload guidelines on the scheme as new information is released.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme means that any Employers that:
As the situation continues to unfold, our team are taking calls and emails looking for support and reassurance on similar topics so we've pulled together the most Frequently Asked Questions.
How does the sick pay work? Do I have to pay SSP? Do I have to pay CSP?
SSP is a legal entitlement for employees who are "off sick" - in these circumstances, self-isolation is being classified under this banner. So, if your employee is off due to self-isolation for whatever reason they are entitled to SSP.
If you have under 250 employees (SMEs) then you will be able to claim this back from day one - we're unsure of the procedures around this as they have not been clearly laid out, so this is something to watch out for. So the simple answer is: yes, you have to pay SSP.
So what options do you have as an employer to reduce your resource and reduce your "people" costs accordingly - if you don't have the option of providing home-working alternatives?
1. Weekly Rotations
An quick way to reduce your in-office staff and your expenses is to implement weekly rotations. After identifying the number of staff required for key functions, you arrange for that number of staff to be available in-office weekly while the rest of your employees remain at home. This gives all employees the opportunity to earn a full wage every second week - and in the weeks they're at home you could either put the employee on SSP or agree a lower rate of pay.
We're not oblivious to the fact that changes in your resourcing may be required if the situation continues to worsen. So what steps should you be looking at now?
We're suggesting that you look at your resource as a whole and identify:
1. How many people can you have working in your office at any one time, ensuring there is adequate social distance (and where possible they're working in different spaces)?
Most office spaces require employees to sit elbow-to-elbow; opposite each other; in neighbouring cubicles - to ensure a minimum of 2 metres between each employee, how many individuals could you have in the space at any one time? If you have private meeting rooms or offices, could you set these up at working areas allowing employees to work in their own space?
As we know, there are no immediate plans to close the schools - however, for those with school-aged children - you will have noticed a distinct reduction of pupils. There have also been calls for action as teachers begin to self-isolate, leaving classes unsupervised, with the #Covid19walkout making it's rounds on Twitter - encouraging both students and teachers to self-isolate.
What are the plans with the schools?
As far as we know - confirmed by sources inside several schools in the Edinburgh district, both state and private - the schools are attempting to stay open until the Easter holidays. Which would be around the beginning of April, then they will close all the way through until the Autumn.
However, this could change rapidly dependent on the PM's ongoing announcements; we have also seen schools close completely when a student has been identified with COVID-19 as a protective measure.