Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has appealed to employers to “stand behind” their workers during the coronavirus crisis – and has backed that call with help for them to pay the salaries of staff.
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of the salary of employees that would otherwise have been laid off.
The scheme will cover 80 per cent of a regular salary up to £2,500 a month, which is just above the median income. All UK businesses are eligible.
To access the scheme, you will need to:
• designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
• submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal. The HMRC says it will set out further details on the information required
The taxman is also “working urgently” to set up a system for reimbursement as its existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.
Employers can top up salaries further if they choose to. Detailed guidance is on its way and will make things clearer.
Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
The government is bringing forward legislation to allow SME businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for absence caused by COVID-19.
The refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of coronavirus.
The package is for employers with fewer than 250 staff – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of February 28 this year.
A rebate scheme is being developed. Further details will be provided once the legalisation has passed.
Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP, according to the new eligibility criteria, as a result of COVID-19
They should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website.
The eligible period for the scheme will start the day after regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force.
The government has said that it will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism as soon as possible.