Useful Phone Numbers

The Government is operating a business helpline which is available to individual businesses on 0300 456 3565.

HMRC Business Support Helpline – 0800 024 1222

HMRC have opened a dedicated helpline for businesses and the self-employed to answer queries or concerns regarding tax payments and finding solutions including:

    • agreeing an instalment arrangement
    • suspending debt collection proceedings
    • cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19

  

Employment Guidance

The EIF website has a range of guidances covering employment from HR specialists Ellis Whittam which you might find helpful.  These cover advice on redundancies to home working and include a sample risk assessment template.  You will find these at https://www.eventsindustryforum.co.uk/index.php/the-events-industry-forum/10-coronavirus-advice

There are also a number of useful points for guidance available from Government and other bodies, including:

Financial Support

Business Support

Link to information launched 23rd March

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-business-support-to-launch-from-today

Link to dedicated web site with support available for businesses

https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/

Furlough Leave

We have been receiving lots of enquiries about the Government support for paying wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).  This provides support by refunding employers 80% of the cost of wages for employees who are “furloughed”.  This unfamiliar word relates to being sent home without work and without pay whilst being retained as an employee.  As this is a variation to the employment contract it requires agreement from the employees but as the alternative is redundancy that is unlikely to be a problem.

If furloughed, employees cannot work for you whilst at home, and probably not for anyone else either, as they are still under contract to you.  If you are having to choose who to furlough you should use what would have been the redundancy selection criteria, and be careful not to discriminate against those with protected characteristics e.g. age, sex, religion, disability etc.  You do not have to top-up the 80% pay. If you can afford to, and if for example, the furloughed employee is a valued employee, you are permitted to pay the 20% shortfall.

There is a cap of £2,500 per month per person but it is not clear yet is whether the limit is 80% of £2,500 or whether the 80% is capped at £2,500.  Since you may be wanting to start putting people on furlough leave before the rules are entirely clear, I suggest erring on the side of caution and assuming the lower amount.  It is also not clear whether the 80% reimbursement has to include Employers NI contributions.  As far as we know so far there is nothing to stop business owners who are directors being furloughed, but this may be clarified.  I also suspect there will be some sort of anti-abuse rules to prevent suddenly inflated salaries being paid.

We attach a template for an agreement with your employees, which makes provision for adjustments to be made to payments if errors are made before the rules are clarified.  You will need to tailor this to suit your own circumstances.

We hope you find this summary helpful, and will update you as more information become available about how to claim the refund and what the likely timescale is.

Coronavirus WhatsApp Information Service

The Govt has started a Whatsapp information service get provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus out to as many people as possible. It will provide information on topics such as coronavirus prevention and symptoms, the latest number of cases in the UK, advice on staying at home, travel advice and myth busting via a chatbot.

To use this free service, simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-launches-coronavirus-information-service-on-whatsapp

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