Can directors, partners or those working under umbrella companies be furloughed?
Yes. The updated government guidance has confirmed that office holders (including company directors), salaried members of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) individuals working under umbrella companies (including agency workers) and individuals who are classified as ‘workers’ rather than employees can be furloughed but only to the extent that they are paid via PAYE. Therefore director’s fees can be claimed (subject to the cap) but dividends are excluded, as are bonuses and commission payments.
Those who are paid annual are now eligible to make a claim, subject to meeting the remaining requirements. This includes being notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020 which relates to a payment of earnings in the 19/20 tax year.
The decision to furlough a director or office holder should be adopted as a formal decision of the company or LLP which should be minuted and notified in writing.
Company directors can only undertake work to fulfil a duty or other obligation arising from an Act of Parliament relating to the filing of company accounts or provision of other information relating to the administration of the director’s company while furloughed and they cannot carry out work that would generate revenue or perform services to or on behalf of their company. This also applies to salaried individuals who are directors of their own personal service company (PSC).
Data on properties, and people, has never been more important.
Given that compliance is at risk here, such a decision must be made by the Board to ensure good governance. Board approval should be sought and recorded for the approach the organisation is taking.
It is essential that you continue to record your data on compliance and report to your board at all times, and that there is a clear audit trail for issues with access, and if appropriate to the Regulator. Access issues as a result of self-isolation should be readily identifiable.
Operatives need to be provided with the tools to operate in as safe a way as possible:
- Checklist of questions to ascertain occupant’s current health
- Protective equipment (masks, gloves, over clothing)
The Gas Safe website is a useful resource for updates: https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance/
Some of these can be implemented by you, some need agreement or consultation and some depend on the wording of contracts. We’ll explain more in relation to each option.
If you sponsor migrants under Tier 2 or Tier 5, you will not be required to report a sponsored employee’s absence if it is linked to coronavirus and you have authorised this absence e.g. they are self-isolating and you have received an online isolation note.
The Home Office has confirmed that sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship for affected employees who have been absent from work for more than 4 weeks if they consider these are exceptional circumstances, which would include absences related to coronavirus. It does however remain extremely important to know where your sponsored workers are and to have up to date contact details.
The guidance states that people should aim to wear a face-covering in indoor spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others, for example on public transport or in some shops, and potentially in the workplace. Face coverings do not mean face masks such as clinical masks worn by certain key workers as PPE, which should be reserved for those people.
Staff working in areas that are open to the public must wear face coverings, this includes:
- estate agents
- post offices
- public areas of hotels and hostels
If these businesses have taken steps in line with Health and Safety Executive guidance for COVID-19 secure workplaces to create a physical barrier between workers and members of the public then staff behind the barrier will not be required to wear a face covering.
For other indoor settings, employers should assess the use of face coverings on a case by case basis depending on the workplace environment, other appropriate mitigations they have put in place, and whether reasonable exemptions apply.