Navigating Challenging Times
Coronavirus has created a situation that none of us could have foreseen, and has required business owners to make some difficult decisions. Many companies are beginning to wonder whether they will survive, and how they can best protect themselves and the livelihood of their staff.
As a small business ourselves, we are faced with many of the same challenges; this document provides you with links to relevant, reliable sources to keep you informed about your options as an employer. These are the organisations we have been looking to for guidance:
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
How much SSP is payable?
The normal qualifying rules for SSP will apply. An employee will be entitled to SSP if they:
Have done some work under their contract
Have average weekly earnings of £118 per week (19/20 tax year), increasing to £120 per week from 6 April 2020
SSP will be paid from the first day of absence for anyone self-isolating due to coronavirus from 13 March 2020. SSP rates are as follows:
£94.25 per week for 19/20 tax year
£95.85 per week for 20/21 tax year
Please remember that the weekly rate of SSP applies regardless of the number of days an eligible employee works (working days are known as qualifying days).
How do I reclaim SSP?
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 has been absent due to coronavirus.
The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.
Employers with 250 employees or less will be able to reclaim SSP – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
The government has announced that a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will become available to businesses over the coming weeks. CBILS will be provided by the British Business Bank.
British Business Bank are in the process of defining and agreeing the scheme’s details, specifications and eligibility and therefore information is subject to change.
You are eligible for a CBILS if your business:
Is UK-based, with turnover of no more than £41 million per annum
Operates within an eligible industrial sector (details of this can be found here)
Has a sound borrowing proposal, but insufficient security to meet a lender’s normal requirements
Is able to confirm that they have not received de minimis State aid beyond €200,000 equivalent over the current and previous two fiscal years
How do I apply for CBILS?
To apply for an CBILS-backed facility, you should consider approaching one or more participating lenders to discuss your business' specific borrowing needs. It is also worth using a business loan comparison tool to ensure you are getting the loan that is most suitable for you.
Reducing your workforce
Lay-offs and short-term working
In some situations, businesses might need to close down for a short time or ask staff to reduce contracted hours. If you think you'll need to do this, it’s important to talk with staff as early as possible and remain in communication with them throughout the closure. Unless it says in their contract or is agreed otherwise, you will still need to pay your employees for this time.
Employees who are laid off and are not entitled to their usual pay might be entitled to a ‘statutory guarantee payment’ of up to £29 a day from their employer. This is limited to a maximum of 5 days in any period of 3 months. On days when a guarantee payment is not payable, employees might be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance from Jobcentre Plus.
Employers have the right to tell employees and workers when to take holiday if they need to; i.e. they can decide to shut for a week and everyone has to use their holiday entitlement during this time. If the employer does decide to do this, they must tell the staff at least twice as many days before as the number of days they need people to take. For example, if they want to close for 5 days, they should tell everyone at least 10 days before. This could affect holiday staff who have already booked or planned, so employers should ensure they do the following:
- Explain clearly why the business needs to close
- Try and resolve anyone’s worries about how it will affect their holiday entitlement or plans
- Be clear with the amount of time they are expecting to remain closed, and explain the business' plans for managing any change to the situation