The chancellor has announced some measures to assist small businesses and employees trying to cope with COVID-19, which are mostly expected to apply from 6 April 2020.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- Employees who self-isolate in accordance with government guidelines will be entitled to claim SSP. This includes those who are unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate and people caring for those in the same household who have COVID-19 and have been told to self-isolate.
- As a temporary measure SSP can be paid from day 1 rather than day 4.
- Employers can use discretion not to require a GP fit note. In addition, the NHS 111 will be able to provide a suitable notification where required.
- Businesses with less than 250 employees will be entitled to reclaim SSP expenditure for a maximum of two weeks per employee.
- Employees on low earnings and the self-employed are not entitled to SSP. They will be able to claim a ‘New Style’ Employment and Support Allowance in a similar manner.
The employment allowance reduces the Class 1 employer’s (secondary) National Insurance Contributions for many small businesses. This allowance will be increased from £3,000 pa to £4,000 pa.
The business rates retail discount is to be increased to 100% in 2021/22 for those businesses affected by COVID-19 and expanded to include the hospitality and leisure sector. Pubs will also receive a discount of £1,000. For those small businesses who are already entitled to the 100% Small Business Rate Relief, and therefore do not pay any business rates, Small Business Grant Funding of up to £3,000 will be made available to help meet ongoing business costs.
Time to Pay
HMRC has set up a COVID-19 helpline for businesses and self-employed individuals who are in financial distress as a result of COVID-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities. They will be able to arrange a repayment schedule of their liabilities. The number is 0800 0159 559.
Employee Home Working
Employees that are required to work from home are already entitled to a flat rate allowance of £4 per week. This will be increased to £6 per week.