Please see below further updates.

Job Support Scheme (JSS)

As mentioned in an earlier briefing the Job Support Schemes (both open and closed) have now been abandoned with the extension of the Job Retention Scheme. The JSS was scheduled to come in on Sunday 1 November.

Job Retention Bonus (JRB)

The Job Retention Bonus (JRB) will not be paid in February 2021 and the Government has stated that this incentive “will be deployed at the appropriate time”. The purpose of the JRB was to encourage employers to keep people in work until the end of January. However, as the CJRS is now being extended to 31 March 2021 we assume that this Grant may be reintroduced at some point after this.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – update

Since our last briefing we have had a number of updates on this Scheme, however, the official guidance remains the same as was published on the first day of lockdown 2.0 on 5 November.

·         Notice periods – The Government have changed their position in respect of claiming for Notice periods within this Scheme. A CJRS claim must not be made by an employer in respect of a day upon which their employee is on notice of termination of the employee’s employment with the employer on that day if that day falls in the period

(i)                  beginning on 1 December 2020, and

(ii)                 ending on 31 January 2021

This, presumably, is to discourage employers from terminating employment and/or using the Scheme to subsidise Notice payments. Employers will need to bear this in mind if redundancies are likely over the coming months.

·         Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – As of 5 November 2020, the clinically extremely vulnerable have been advised to take new shielding measures and are expected to receive formal shielding notifications shortly. If they cannot work from home, employees who are advised to shield should not attend work and will be eligible for SSP. When infection rates decreased over the summer, shielding was “paused” from the beginning of August and there was no further entitlement to SSP. Now that shielding has begun again, previous shielding notification letters need to be updated with the current date for SSP purposes. We believe that formal shielding notification letters will act as evidence for employers.

Below is a link to the Governments current advice in respect of SSP, furlough and Covid-19.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-which-employees-you-can-put-on-furlough-to-use-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

This advice is both complex and detailed and action should not be taken unless you are completely sure of its implications. We are here to help when required.

Below we highlight some of the topics that we are regularly asked about:

If your employee is self-isolating or on sick leave

If your employee is on sick leave or self-isolating as a result of Coronavirus, they may be able to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not intended for short-term absences from work due to sickness.

Short term illness/self-isolation should not be a consideration in deciding whether to furlough an employee. If, however, employers want to furlough employees for business reasons and they are currently off sick, they are eligible to do so, as with other employees. In these cases, the employee should no longer receive sick pay and would be classified as a furloughed employee.

Employers can furlough employees who are clinically extremely vulnerable, at the highest risk of severe illness from Coronavirus, or off on long-term sick leave.

You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the SSP rebate scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time.

If your employee becomes sick while furloughed

Furloughed employees retain their statutory rights, including their right to SSP. This means that furloughed employees who become ill, due to Coronavirus or any other cause, must be paid at least SSP. It is up to employers to decide whether to move these employees onto SSP or to keep them on furlough, at their furloughed rate.

Employers are required to pay SSP themselves, although may qualify for a rebate for up to two weeks of SSP if the sickness is related to Coronavirus.

If employers keep the sick furloughed employee on the furloughed rate for the period that they are sick, they remain eligible to claim for these costs through the furlough Scheme.

A reminder of the current rules for SSP can be found on the Government’s website and can be found in the link.

https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay

Specifically if you cannot work because of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

You could get SSP if you are self-isolating because:

·         you or someone you live with has Coronavirus symptoms or has tested positive for Coronavirus;

·         You have been notified by the NHS or Public Health authorities that you have been in contact with someone with Coronavirus;

·         someone in your ‘support bubble’ (or your ‘extended household’) has Coronavirus symptoms or has tested positive for Coronavirus;

·         you have been advised by a doctor or healthcare professional to self-isolate before going into hospital for surgery.

You can also get SSP if both of the following apply:

·         you live or work in an area with restrictions in place (local or national) including advice to ‘shield’ (take extra precautions to reduce contact with others)

·         You have been advised to shield because you are at very high risk of severe illness from Coronavirus

You cannot get SSP if you are self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK and do not need to self-isolate for any other reason.

If your illness is not related to Coronavirus, you can get SSP, as usual, from the fourth day you are off work sick.

·         Other statutory payments – No CJRS claim may include amounts of specified statutory payments in respect of an employee during the employee’s period of Furlough, and the gross amount of earnings falling for reimbursement must be correspondingly reduced.

                The specified statutory payments for these purposes are:

                Statutory Maternity Pay

                Statutory Adoption Pay

                Statutory Paternity Pay

                Statutory Shared Parental Pay

                Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay 

·         Flexible Furlough – will continue broadly in the same manner as it has in the past with employees not able to undertake any work for their employer during the hours that the employer records them as being on furlough. However, they can, as previously, take part in training, volunteer for another employer or organisation, or work for another employer (if contractually allowed).

We have been receiving a number of calls from HMRC in recent weeks, querying the detail of Furlough recoveries that our Payroll team have lodged. 

They are checking for ‘Furlough Breaches’ is what they are saying. We keep evidence of the claims we put through and interrogate the detail provided to us by clients, therefore we have been able to push back against any inference of a Breach.  However, if you are processing your own claims, please do retain back up evidence, so you can do the same.

May we remind you that if you are the ‘Transport Manager’ for ‘O’ licence purposes you cannot be Furloughed if your lorries remain on the road.  

·         Holiday pay – Furloughed employees continue to accrue leave as per their employment contract. The employer and employee can agree to vary holiday entitlement as part of the furlough agreement, however, almost all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks of statutory paid annual leave each year which they cannot go below.

Employees can take holiday whilst on furlough. If an employee is flexibly furloughed then any hours taken as holiday during the claim period should be counted as furloughed hours rather than working hours.

Employees should not be placed on furlough for a period simply because they are on holiday for that period. Working Time Regulations (WTR) require holiday pay to be paid at the employee’s normal rate of pay or, where the rate of pay varies, calculated on the basis of the average pay received by the employee in the last 52 working weeks (twelve weeks in Northern Ireland). Therefore, if a furloughed employee takes holiday, the employer should pay their usual holiday pay in accordance with the Working Time Regulations.

Employers will be obliged to pay employees who are on holiday additional amounts over the Grant, though will have the flexibility to restrict when leave can be taken if there is a business need and the correct notice is given. This applies for both the furlough period and the recovery period.

If an employee usually works Bank holidays, then the employer can agree that this is included in the Grant payment. If the employee usually takes the Bank holiday as leave, then the employer would either have to top up their usual holiday pay, or give the employee a day of holiday in lieu.

Find out more information on holiday pay during furlough.

Capital Allowances for Business

Businesses, including manufacturing firms, can continue to claim up to £1 million in same-year tax relief through the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) for capital investments in plant and machinery assets until 1 January 2022. The extension of the temporary £1 million cap was originally due to revert to £200,000 on 1 January 2021.

This move is intended to boost confidence as companies look to weather the pandemic and plan for the future.

Local Restrictions Support Grants

As previously advised business premises forced to close in England are to receive Grants worth up to £3,000 per month under the Local Restrictions Support Grant. Also, £1.1bn is being given to Local Authorities for one-off payments to enable them to support businesses more broadly on a discretionary basis.  

Businesses required to close in England due to local or national restrictions will be eligible for the following:

·         For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £1,334 per month, or £667 per two weeks;

·         For properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k grants to be £2,000 per month, or £1,000 per two weeks;

·         For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to be £3,000 per month, or £1,500 per two weeks.

Businesses will have to apply for these grants from their local authority and we attached a link here to the Dorset Council page

https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/emergencies-severe-weather/emergencies/coronavirus/business-and-employers/local-restrictions-support-grant-lrsg-for-premises-that-are-closed.aspx

And the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole link is

https://www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/News/News-Features/COVID-19/Employers-and-businesses/Financial-support-for-businesses/local-restrictions-support-grant-for-businesses-closed-from-5-november-to-2-december-2020.aspx

Brexit

As we have in earlier Briefings, we are attaching a link to the Governments checker tool here https://www.gov.uk/transition

We advise you to continue to monitor your respective trade groups for specific advice relating to your business type.

As of 1 January 2021, if a UK employer wishes to hire anyone from outside the UK (excluding Irish citizens) they will need to apply for permission in advance. As of this date, free movement will end and the UK will introduce a points-based immigration system for anyone coming to the UK and each worker must meet a specific set of requirements. Visas are then awarded to those who gain enough points.

The new system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally. This represents a significant change for employers recruiting from outside the UK labour market, and any employers affected must take steps now to prepare for the new rules.

Details of the UK’s new points based system can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-points-based-immigration-system-employer-information/the-uks-points-based-immigration-system-an-introduction-for-employers

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THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY

The England and Company Team

The England and Company Team

Our experts include: Chartered Certified Accountants, Chartered Tax Advisors and Registered Auditors.

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