Other assistance for employers due to Covid19
The Government has announced a number of measures to offer assistance for employers during Coronavirus with the aim to protect businesses and jobs as far as possible.
Expenses for working from home
Where employees incur additional costs for working from home it is possible for the employer to reimburse the employees for such costs. This has normally been reserved for those working under home working contracts but HMRC have confirmed this can apply for all those working from home due to coronavirus. Employees need to retain details of the additional costs they have incurred or a general allowance of £6 per week can be paid (rate increased from £4 per week from 1st April).
Time to pay helpline
A special helpline has been established to assist in time to pay arrangements if you are unable to make your payments as normal due to coronavirus. You can contact HMRC on 0800 024 1222.
Businesses with contractors who may have been affected by the off-payroll working changes to be introduced will be relieved to know that these have now been deferred until April 2021.
Most businesses will allow employees to carry over holiday days that they have been unable to use in the holiday year until the following holiday period. This is commonly restricted to 5 days with holiday over that limit being lost. Coronavirus clearly means that employees are unlikely to take the holidays they would usually plan at this time. Employers should still be encouraging workers and employees to take their paid holiday however the government has introduced a temporary new law allowing employees and workers to carry over up to 4 weeks’ paid holiday over a 2-year period. This law applies for any holiday the employee does not take because of coronavirus.
You can still require your employees to take holiday they have already booked and you do have the right to tell employees when to take their holiday or to cancel holiday they have booked. There are regulations specifying the notice an employer is required to give an employee in these circumstances.
Employers should be aware that employees who have been furloughed continue to accrue holiday entitlement and employers should consider how they will deal with bank holidays if employees are not able to take these days as holiday due to coronavirus.
From April 2020, rolled-up holiday pay (paying holiday pay over the year) is no longer legal and holiday pay should be paid to people when they actually take the holiday.
This applies to zero-hour contracts as much as all other employees. For example, should a casual member of staff communicate that they are planning a holiday between 15 and 25 May, they should receive holiday pay to cover that period. This pay would be calculated on the average of the pay for the 52 weeks prior to them taking the holiday, even if they were not scheduled to work between the 15 and 25 May.
Exemption for Trivial Benefits
The topic of trivial benefits is frequently misunderstood, however this exemption for Benefits in Kind can often be used as a tax efficient method of motivating staff and employees. In order for the benefit to be trivial, four conditions must be met:
- the cost must not exceed £50;
- the amount cannot be cash, or redeemable for cash;
- the benefit cannot be a reward for specific tasks or work done; and
- there must have been no contractual obligation for you to provide the gift to your employee.
For instance, HMRC generally accept that Birthday, Christmas, or other seasonal gifts are eligible for the exemption, including for the gift of alcohol and food. Additionally, the gift of vouchers and gift cards would also be exempt, provided that they cannot be exchanged for cash.
For more information
For more information on Coronavirus assistance for employers please contact us on: