23 Mar Covid-19 Employers Guidance
To say we are living in unprecedented and challenging times is an understatement. We understand at this moment there is a lot of uncertainty and worry. We hope to provide some clarity on the recent announcements made by the government.
We have put together a summary based on the most common payroll questions we have been asked by Employers. Please note the guidance is changing on a daily basis and we will keep you updated as best we can. You can access the latest information from here
Who is entitled to receive SSP?
Employees will be entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay if they need to self-isolate due to:
- Having Coronavirus
- Having Symptoms of Coronavirus
- Someone in their household having coronavirus
- Being advised to self-isolate by a medical professional
- Those who follow advice to stay at home and cannot work as a result will be eligible for SSP even if they are not themselves sick.
If someone is experiencing symptoms all members of their household must self-isolate for 14 days. Individuals who live alone must self-isolate for 7 days.
Please note the normal qualifying rules for SSP still apply and employees will only be entitled to SSP if they:
- Have average earnings of £118 per week (19/20 tax year) increasing to £120 per week from 6th April 2020.
- SSP is currently £94.25 per 19/20 tax year
- £95.85 per week from 6th April 2020
If you are unsure if your employees will or may not qualify for SSP please contact the payroll office and we will be able to confirm this for you.
Any employees not eligible for SSP (those earning under £118 per week) are able to claim universal credit or Employment and Support Allowance. For those on a low income and already claiming Universal Credit it is designed to automatically adjust depending on peoples earnings or other income.
SSP will be paid from the first day of absence for anyone self- isolating due to the coronavirus from 13th March 2020. The normal 3 waiting days rule will not apply.
Employers are asked to use their discretion concerning the need for medical evidence for certification for employees who are unwell. In light of pressure on the NHS there is now an isolation note available from the NHS online. Please use the following link https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/
When processing your payroll we will require the dates your employee has been off sick and if this is due to self-isolation. We will process any statutory sick pay through your payroll as normal. Self Employed people can now access Universal Credit and the equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay in full.
The government is allowing small and medium sized employers to reclaim SSP paid for sickness due to Coronavirus. Employers can reclaim 2 weeks of SSP per employee who have been absent due to Coronavirus.
As yet we are being advised that we will not reclaim SSP though the PAYE. The government will work with employers over the next coming months to set up a repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible. Therefore it is vital that we keep accurate records of all your employees when off sick due to the Coronavirus. When processing the payroll please notify us of any employees off work due to the Coronavirus. Please note if you decide to pay staff in full whilst absent we can offset the SSP and you can claim back the SSP.
We are expecting further guidance from the government on this and once we know more we will make this information available to you.
Coronavirus Job Rentention Scheme
In perhaps the most key move for businesses, the government will cover the cost of 80% of employee’s wages up to a maximum of £2500 per month. This will support employers to continue paying part of their employees salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during the crisis.
All UK businesses are eligible.
The money is backdated to 1stMarch 2020 and will last for a minimum of 3 months. There is no limit on the funding the government are making available for this and they are hoping to payout within weeks but definitely by the end of April.
To access the scheme you will need to:
- Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers’ (allow or force someone to be absent) and notify employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and,depending on the employment contract, maybe subject to negotiation
- Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal. (HMRC are due to set out further details on the information required)
HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. The existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to Employers.
We are monitoring this closely and will update you once we know the requirements issued by HMRC. We will help you with this as much as we can, in the mean-time we ask that you keep accurate details of any employees that are affected by this.
With the announcement of school closures for the foreseeable future we understand that many employees who are parents are going to be confused as to what to do about childcare, and employers confused about entitlements and pay.
There are a few different options available to parents who need to stay at home to look after children:
Time Off For Dependents
Employees are entitled to request unpaid time off to deal with emergencies involving dependants.This is a period of short term leave in order to make alternative arrangements,not a long term solution.
For employees who have more than 1 years of service, they are entitled to 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave for each child up to the age of 18 (or 18 years after placement in the case of adoption).
A maximum of 4 weeks leave per child can be taken in each year. Parental Leave must be taken in blocks of one week or more and both parents have the right to take leave. Employees must normally give 21 days notice to take Parental Leave but in the circumstances we would encourage you to consider lowering this notice period.
If employees are worried about pay but need to take some time off to care for their child you may ask them to consider using some of their paid annual leave. You can’t force them to do this but it is an option that should be open to them.
Working From Home
Can your employee work from home? Can you provide the necessary equipment to do so?
Kneeshaws Payroll Team
I hope you have found the above information useful but please contact the payroll office with any queries you may have, Paul and Lyndsey will try our best to help you. The guidelines from the government are constantly changing and we will try to keep you up to dated.
You have our full support and please contact us should you have any concerns with your payroll – Tel 01282332091/ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are all in this together and hopefully we can get through this as best we can.