We are painfully aware that for many of our smaller clients and those in hospitality, leisure, retail or any other client facing business, the next few months to even a year could be spent balancing on a knife edge.
The team at Pay Check have put our heads together to bring you as much information as we can, including government support and any partner companies we know of who can provide advice or help your business with reducing overheads.
It’s important to remember during this time that we are not regulated to provide any detailed advice apart from payroll regulations – so our team members cannot advise on anything to do with employment law/HR or government bailout loans etc - that being said we can be helpful with pointing out where clients can find the right advice.
Pay Check have a large network of clients, partners and supporters, and we truly believe that this can be leveraged for the good of our SME community.
If any of our clients have more hints and tips, or have an offer they would like to put out to our whole network, you are more than welcome to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and join our Facebook group here to network with each other.
Here are some of the best options for advice/services we have found so far:
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - Furloughing Employees
Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Under the Coronavirus Job Retention 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.
All UK businesses are eligible.
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.
To access the scheme you will need to:
- designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
- submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)
Layoffs vs Redundancies
Here is some more information about when you can enact short term layoffs instead of redundancies - this would be in the situation where you believe you will be able to reopen your business after a short period https://www.gov.uk/lay-offs-short-timeworking and https://archive.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=3840 You can also call ACAS for various employment law advice, albeit we have heard the helpline queue is off the charts this week https://www.acas.org.uk/
What submissions are due to HMRC if your business temporarily closes?
If you think your business has no other option but to close temporarily, this does not mean that you necessarily have to close your PAYE scheme - we can continue to submit NIL EPS to HMRC for you until you reopen, thus avoiding future costs of restarting your business.
Time to Pay - Delay your VAT and PAYENIC payments to help cashflow
"Time to Pay" allows clients to delay their PAYENIC and VAT payments if their business/cashflow has been interrupted – they will need to let us know if they make this arrangement and we usually pay their PAYENIC by BACS https://www.gov.uk/difficulties-paying-hmrc
Business Loans, Grants and Rebates
HMRC have reported a long list of business loans, grants and rebates that companies can take advantage of here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/873676/Covid-19_fact_sheet_18_March.pdf
Discounts on Business Rates for Hospitality, Retail and Leisure
For those specifically in hospitality, retail and leisure you should receive an automatic discount on your business rates - this will come directly from your local authority on your council tax bill (which may have to be reissued if you have already received yours) - you can check what the discount should be here https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-business-rates
Help your employees obtain refunds on their season tickets with TFL
If you or your employees have a travel season ticket that you no longer need from TFL you can apply for a refund here https://tfl.gov.uk/fares/refunds-and-replacements/season-ticket-on-oyster-no-longer-needed
Enforcement of the gender pay gap reporting deadlines suspended for this year
The Government Equalities Office (GEO), along with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have confirmed that, in response to the outbreak of coronavirus, the enforcement of the gender pay gap reporting deadlines will be suspended for the current reporting year, 2019-20.
There is no expectation on employers to provide their gender pay gap data.
HR Services and Advice Including Contract Changes For Furlough
Croner HR can provide employment law and HR advice, including how to manage staff reductions and reducing hours plus short term layoff.
Many clients may not have heard of "short term layoff" and the potential benefits of this option versus redundancy in a changing business situation. In addition, with the recent announcement from the government with regards to "Furloughing" employees and funds available, compliance of documentation and paperwork is going to be crucial. Croner can support through the process to make sure everything is where it needs to be.
Croner HR have offered 10% off all services to help our clients - to take advantage of this offer our clients must contact Martin Vodden at Croner directly and quote Pay Check on either Martin.Vodden@croner.co.uk or 07866030619.
Business Trade Club with nGine Room - Discounts off your business overheads
Ngine Room run a business Trade Club where the power of numbers allows them to negotiate discounts off various business overhead costs, such as Health Insurance, Company Insurances, Travel, Couriers, Taxis, IT, Stationery, Mobile Phones, Office Printers, Telephones, Office Subsistence etc. You can find them here https://www.ngineroom.co.uk/trade-club
Speak to your accountant!!
The best accountants will find you the most tax efficient ways of running your business, provide you with cashflow analysis, and help you to access funding whether through loans or grants. If you do not have an accountant, drop us a message as we have plenty to recommend (bookkeepers and part time CFOs too)!
Business Rescue - obtain a diagnostic report to tell you exactly how you can save your business from ceasing trading
Business Rescue can help salvage a business where it seems like there are no further options available. Contact Ron and his team for a business diagnostic https://paycheck.co.uk/ron-mitchell/
UKBA - Free advice and support call with a range of different experienced business advisors
UKBA is a Nationwide network of UK Business Advisors – each advisor is an experienced specialist in an aspect of running a business (e.g. UK Business Advisors can help by supporting businesses with advice on business contingency planning, forecasting, strategy, financial management, turnaround, restructuring, HR, procurement strategy and other key challenges). UK Business Advisors have activated its nationwide network of experienced advisors to help business owners and directors plan what is needed. Even with government grants, business rates relief or emergency loan support there will be difficult decisions to be made quickly. “We can provide initial support and share our experience for free over the phone or by video call” - please click on the following link for more information on actions for businesses to consider and UKBA contact details for urgent support - https://ukba.co.uk/coronavirus/
Pegasus Funding - small business finance specialist
Pegasus Funding is an independent, small business finance specialist, that helps SMEs raise funding of all types. Their service is personal and bespoke for every client. Their goal is to find the right funding to fit the unique circumstances of each business. They have extensive industry knowledge to create solutions that are innovative and not always obvious. They can often help businesses get rapid access to funding https://www.pegasusfunding.co.uk/
R and D Tax - free consultancy to UK starts up - claim research and development tax credits!
Finally (for now) our friends at R and D Tax can help any UK business that has conducted research and development to apply for tax credits on the cost of such work. Contact Linda Ezequiel for a free 15 minute audit here https://calendly.com/linda-ez/15min-review. Not only that but they are generously providing a year of free R&D tax consultancy to UK start ups! Check out if you are eligible here https://www.randdtax.co.uk/giving-back/
How SSP works for COVID-19
- Finally a reminder on how SSP works for COVID-19 related illness or self isolation:
The government will bring forward legislation to allow small- and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:
- this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
- employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible - the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
- employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
- employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
- eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to self-isolators comes into force
What due diligence is needed for COVID-19 sickness
- SSP relating to COVID-19 sickness or self-isolation can start from day 1, but this is not the case for other sickness
- Further to this, whilst it is still slightly unclear when it will happen, the HMRC will only refund the 2 weeks SSP per employee for a specifically COVID-19 related illness or self isolation
- HMRC have confirmed that employees do not need to give you a GP note for this period, they can self certify, therefore we strongly advise that employers keep their own detailed records of the types of sickness your employees are paid SSP for, as the government may ask to see these for a future reclaim. Employees can obtain a self isolation note here: https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/
- The government has commented that payroll software have not been updated for the reclaims - rest assured that Pay Check are ready to make the payments, and are working with our software providers to implement updates for the reclaim as soon as the government releases more information.
Wishing all our clients the best throughout this unprecedented time and rest assured that we will continue to deliver key payroll services.