Setting out the newly elected government’s expenditure plans for the coming year, today’s budget announcement featured heavily on funding that has been allocated to support the economy through the coronavirus crisis. This included further clarification on a short-term legislative change to statutory sick pay (SSP).
Just last week the prime minister said that “nobody should be penalised for doing the right thing” and so it was announced that employees who self-isolate or are in quarantine on the basis of medical advice should be treated as ‘sick’ and will be eligible to receive SSP. This will be from day one of sickness and forms part of the forthcoming COVID-19 Bill.
Employees will be able to obtain sick notes also known as fit notes from the NHS non-emergency service 111, which they can use as evidence for absence from work where necessary. This aims to take pressure away from local GPs.
Financial support for SMEs
Furthermore, the budget informed that SMEs will be able to reclaim SSP for fourteen days in relation to coronavirus, once the COVID-19 Bill is in effect.
Additional financial support is being made available with banks offering loans of up to £1.2m to support SMEs and HMRC are scaling up the Time To Pay service.
IR35 not mentioned
Whilst all this is very welcome for firms already struggling with the effects of COVID-19, those in the gig economy and self-employed contractors, who have been reclassified under IR35, will have to pay income tax but will not get any employee rights. We are disappointed that the whole IR35 introduction has not been postponed and employment law and HMRC definitions aligned.
Support for your business
The impact of coronavirus has been felt far and wide and we understand that employers will have many questions on how to manage their people during this time. Please visit our coronavirus FAQ page which we will continue to update as and when news is available. If you would like further HR support please contact your local HR Dept.