So here we are, Lockdown 3.0, with a vaccine around the corner (let’s hope).
Here’s a reminder of the support available going forward in January 2021 and how it works in case any nuggets of useful information have passed you by. Most of these announcements have been announced at 5pm on a Friday, usually when more dramatic life or death news has been going on so we’ve had a hard enough time keeping on top of them ourselves.
Furlough Pay (CJRS Scheme)
How much furlough pay do your employees get?
The current amount, due to continue up to April 2020 is 80%. You do not have to top up your employees wages, but you will have to pay the employers NI and their workplace pension contributions.
Furlough is flexible
So you can furlough any of your employee’s for part or all of their working week. This can be agreed between you and your employee to suit your business needs, or that of your employees.
This will be helpful if you have had a downturn in trade, but still need to make sure you can keep the customers you do have satisfied. Your employees can work for as long as you need them, working any hours from zero to full time. You claim furlough pay for the rest of their usual hours.
Homeschooling parents can be furloughed
Furlough can be offered to parents who are homeschooling their kids as a result of school closures. Although you may need your employees to keep your business going, this measure at least this gives you the flexibility of furloughing someone who is struggling with both homeschooling and working and any resulting reduction in productivity can be contributed towards by the government.
Cut-off date is now 30 October 2020
Your employees must have been paid on your payroll before 30th October 2020 in order to be furloughed. If they started after that date, you won’t be able to claim.
No need to have been previously furloughed.
At one point the rules required you to have previously furloughed someone to do it again, but this requirement has been removed and you can furlough anyone who was on the payroll at 30th October.
Self-isolating employees can be paid SSP or furlough If your employees can’t work while they are self-employed, you can pay them SSP and reclaim it, however you can only claim two weeks for each person, so if they’ve self-isolated before, you won’t be able to claim it back.
You could furlough your employees if they are self-isolating, so you essentially have a choice as to which works best for you.
Obviously, your employees can also use up their annual leave if they would prefer.
Consider holiday plans for 2021
You might want to start thinking about holidays and how these will work out over the year. Whereas your employees may have still kept their holidays last year even if their actual trip was cancelled, chances are they haven’t actually got anything booked for 2021 and won’t be planning anything until they have more certainty.
It is still a good idea to encourage your employees to take time off, even if it is miserable outside and we’ve nowhere to go, lockdown is stressful and we can all benefit from some time off.
You might also want to encourage them to start booking in time off to avoid bottlenecks in future months, when potentially your business might just be getting back to normal and you are busy.
Holidays can be taken even if your employees are furloughed, but you must top up the salary to 100%.
There are currently two grants available for business who have had to close under the restrictions. The councils appear to be combining these together and are paying this directly into the bank accounts of business who have previously claimed.
If you haven’t previously claimed but think that you might be eligible, you should claim using the form on your local council website.
Local restriction support grant
These grants were paid for the period up to 4th January for businesses that were forced to close during the restriction period, either due to the lockdown period in November, or due to the tier they were in for the period after.
This grant continues to be paid for the period after 5th January and until the end of the current national lockdown ends.
Closed Business Lockdown Payment
In addition to this, a one-off payment will be paid to all businesses forced to close, in line with their rateable value.
If your rateable value is
● £15,000 or less, the grant is £4,000.
● Between £15,000 and £51,000 the grant is £6,000 and,
● Above £51,000 the grant is £9,000