New COVID-19 UK Government Financing Options Available

By Drew D. Salvest & Natalie A. Stewart

31.03.2020

The UK government recently announced a package of measures to provide liquidity to UK businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two schemes are particularly useful for financing needs: the HM Treasury and the Bank of England COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility and the British Business Bank Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Our Alert provides summaries of the financing schemes, eligibility requirements and the application process.

HM Treasury and the Bank of England COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

Who Is Eligible?

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Top Tips: Keeping Data Safe When Working Remotely

By John M. Benjamin & Edward Pickard

30.03.2020

The coronavirus pandemic has had a severe impact on businesses right across the globe and with a third of the world now in lockdown, thousands of businesses have moved most of their workforce to remote working. Although working from home allows a business to continue operating, it brings significant security risks, placing a greater need to maintain compliance with relevant data security requirements.

Maintaining the security of company data is the responsibility of both the employer and employee and continuing to maintain appropriate security measures is critical at this time. Below are some key points for employees and businesses to keep data secure when working remotely.

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Coronavirus and Construction in the UK: The Time to Talk Is Now

By Steve Nichol and Tanya Chadha

In an industry of seemingly ever-tighter margins across the board, it is perhaps unsurprising that the construction industry has fought to continue through the current coronavirus crisis as much as it has.  However, many in the industry have stopped work and shut down sites and, despite the current and perhaps somewhat over-optimistic view from the government that work can continue whilst still complying with social distancing rules, it seems inevitable that all non-essential work will stop very soon.

As work grinds to a halt, it is increasingly clear that in the vast majority of projects, contracts will not provide a straightforward answer to most of the questions that will arise from the shutdown. There will be many grey areas and a significant risk of extensive disputes. To avoid this, or at least limit the scope of those disputes, parties need to be communicating these issues and discussing approaches and solutions now. Continue reading “Coronavirus and Construction in the UK: The Time to Talk Is Now”

COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme – Update March 26th 2020

By Nic Hart & Liam Hutton

26.03.2020

The UK Government’s COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme is available to any large or small employer. Furlough leave is short term temporary leave. The scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1 and cover all UK-wide employers with a PAYE scheme.

The government will pay cash grants (grants will be received from HMRC) of 80 per cent of an employee’s wages up to a cap of £2,500, providing the worker is kept employed.

At present the scheme will be open initially for at least 3 months but the government has indicated it will extend it for longer if necessary. There is no limit on the amount of funding available for the scheme.

Government expectation is that the first grants will be paid within weeks and HMRC are aiming to get this done before the end of April. There are no existing systems set up to facilitate payments to employers at this time.

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Furlough Leave – The UK Government’s COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme

By Nic Hart

23.03.2020

Last week the UK Government announced that it would be providing support for businesses through the ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’. Under this scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. ‘Laid off’ in this context will mean in general rather than in the technical sense.

As at the time of writing (23 March 2020 – 9:30am), the Guidance remains limited on the scheme, particularly in relation to its administration. However, we have tried to best summarise the current position below.

 The Scheme

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.

It is not clear at this stage whether this is a cap on £2,500 gross salary or cap on net payment, but indications are from reading current guidance on this is that this will be the net salary cap.

Employees guidance is that they should not undertake work, will remain employed and on the payroll and that the employer can make up the 20% shortfall but this will be at the employers discretion.

The scheme will be backdated to 1 March 2020 and will run for an initial three months from that date. The Government have stated that the scheme will be extended if necessary.

 Eligibility

All UK businesses are eligible. The guidance currently does not state any limitation to this, so it will apply to limited companies, LLPs, Partnerships, charities, sole traders etc.

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COVID-19: Introduction of ‘Online Isolation Notes’

By Nic Hart & Liam Hutton

20.03.2020

The Government has announced that Isolation notes will provide employees with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate due to coronavirus, either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and so cannot work.

For the first seven days off work, employees can self-certify so they don’t need any evidence for their employer. After that, employers may ask for evidence of sickness absence. Where this is related to having symptoms of coronavirus or living with someone who has symptoms, the isolation note can be used to provide evidence of the advice to self-isolate.

The government says the notes can be accessed through the NHS website and NHS 111 online.

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COVID-19: UK Government Postpones IR 35 Reforms until 6 April 2021

By Nic Hart & Liam Hutton

19.03.2020

As part of the UK Government’s emergency measures to tackle the effects of the coronavirus crisis on the UK economy, it announced on 17 March 2020 that the implementation of new regulations subjecting ‘medium and large’ companies to the off-payroll working rules have been postponed until 6 April 2021.

The Reforms

In July 2019 the Government published draft legislation to the effect that from April 2020, the IR 35 rules would no longer apply where ‘medium and large’ companies in the private sector contract with personal service companies for the provision of workers’ services.

However, this implementation date has now been moved to 6 April 2021 as part of the UK Government’s financial measures in light of the coronavirus crisis.

When eventually implemented, the effect of these changes will be that the IR 35 rules, which place the obligation to assess employment status and operate payroll if appropriate with the personal service companies rather than end user companies, will no longer apply to those entities regarded as ‘medium and large companies.’ Consequently, these end user companies will be subject to an obligation to account for tax and national insurance for workers engaged via a personal service company through PAYE under the off-payroll working rules from 6 April 2021.

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Good Work Plan – Section 1 Statements from 6 April 2020

By Nic Hart & Liam Hutton

11.01.2020

Because of the Governments Good Work Plan, there are some important changes to the obligations on employers on issuing a written statement of particulars of employment, referred to as the ‘Section 1 Statement’. Employers currently often ignore that section.

Below is some advice that we recommend to include in offer letters to avoid confusion and dispute further down the line.

The ‘Section 1 Statement’ – Current Position

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