Coronavirus Update 25th September 2020
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has outlined additional government support to provide certainty to UK businesses and workers impacted by coronavirus.
Job support scheme
- A new Job Support Scheme will be introduced from 1 November to protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to coronavirus. Under the scheme, which will run for six months, the government will contribute towards the wages of employees who are working fewer than normal hours due to decreased demand.
- Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work – but for the hours not worked, the government and the employer will each pay one third of their equivalent salary. In order to support only viable jobs, employees must be working at least 33% of their usual hours. The level of grant will be calculated based on employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month. The Job Support Scheme will be open to businesses across the UK even if they have not previously used the furlough scheme, with further guidance being published in due course.
Giving businesses flexibility to pay back loans
- Businesses who took out a Bounce Back Loan will be given the option to repay their loan over a period of up to ten years through a new Pay as You Grow flexible repayment system. Interest-only periods of up to six months and payment holidays will also be available to businesses.
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders will be given the ability to extend the length of loans from a maximum of six years to ten years if it will help businesses to repay the loan.
The government is extending four temporary loan schemes to 30 November 2020 for new applications: As a result, more businesses will now be able to benefit from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Future Fund.
From 28 September, businesses and organisations will face stricter rules to make their premises COVID-19 secure
- Employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
- Businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where mandated.
This guidance applies to England, except for where local restrictions apply.
Working from home and working safely guidance
- To help contain the virus, office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter. Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work. More here.
- Business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events in England will not be able to reopen from 1 October as previously planned.
Safer transport guidance for operators has been updated with changes to guidance on working from home; on wearing face coverings in retail and hospitality venues located within transport hubs; and on the requirement for passengers to wear face coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles.
Measures from the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act extended to relieve pressure on businesses dealing with coronavirus: Measures put in place to protect businesses from insolvency will be extended to continue giving them much-needed breathing space during the coronavirus.
NHS COVID-19 app launched across England and Wales: The NHS COVID-19 app has launched to help control COVID-19 transmission alongside national and local contact tracing. From today certain businesses in England are required by law to display NHS Test and Trace QR codes so customers with the NHS COVID-19 app can use them to check-in. QR codes will help businesses meet their legal requirement to log contact details and allow public health leads to send alerts based on whether people have checked in at venues.
New package to support and enforce self-isolation in England: A new package has been announced to support and enforce self-isolation, including a payment of £500 for those on lower incomes who cannot work from home and have lost income as a result. New fines for those breaching self-isolation rules will start at £1,000 but could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and for the most egregious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating.