Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a series of emergency measures in the continued fight against Coronavirus. This includes a huge bailout to cover the wages of millions of workers. The Government have laid out unprecedented measures to support employees and employers alike.
The aim is to keep the UK economy afloat by ensuring workers aren’t being laid off due to the crisis, and to minimise the number of businesses collapsing. The Chancellor announced the government will cover up to 80% of salaries, up to £2,500 per month. Employers will be able to apply to HMRC to pay the wages of people who are furloughed.
Whilst these plans aren’t bullet proof and there will be inevitable casualties, it goes some way to supporting people. In this article we outline some of the support available to employees during the crisis.
We will cover employers and the self-employed in separate articles. The situation is evolving on a daily basis, so we advise to keep abreast of the latest news.
The Government have stated employers should work from home, unless it is impossible for them to do so. The obvious exception to this rule are key workers. These include NHS workers, food producers, manufacturers, waste management providers, delivery drivers, to name but a few.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you should not leave your house for 7 days from when the symptoms started. If you live with others, and you are the first person in the house to have symptoms, then you must stay at home for 7 days. All other household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.
Employees are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are too ill to work. This will be £94.25 per week, paid for by the employer for up to 28 weeks. Employees will need to speak to their employer to claim and also read the Statutory Sick Pay guidelines on the Government website.
If you’re self-employed or below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week and not eligible for SSP, you can claim for Universal Credit.
Furloughed workers are those people whose employers are unable to cover staff costs due to the coronavirus crisis. The scheme allows employers in the UK to access support to continue to pay a proportion of employees’ salaries. These employees would have effectively been laid off and made redundant during the health crisis.
If your employer intends to access this under the Coronavirus job retention scheme and you are included, they should talk you through the process. It essentially means you are being kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being made redundant. To qualify for the scheme the employee should not undertake any work whilst being furloughed.
Employers will need to designate selected employees as ‘furloughed workers’ and notify them of this change. They will also need to submit relevant information such as earnings to HMRC through a new online portal.
The scheme will run for at least three months, effective from 1st March 2020. All UK businesses are currently eligible. The Government have stated this will be extended if necessary
Employers can claim a grant of up to 80% of an employee’s wage, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. Some employers may choose to fund any difference between this payment and an employees original salary. An employee may also be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.
Gov.uk provide guidance on Coronavirus and claiming benefits which can be accessed here. This includes support for rent costs, if you are on low income or if you are self-employed.
We’re in unchartered territory and the situation is evolving every day. We advise you to keep abreast of the latest news to understand how Government legislation may help you in this unprecedented crisis.