Do I still have to pay business rates?
The Chancellor has announced that all retail and hospitality firms will be exempt from paying business rates for 12 months in a bid to combat the financial damage caused by the outbreak.
This covers pubs, restaurants and shops. After initially covering businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000, this has now been extended to cover firms of any size, “irrespective of rateable value.”
Smaller businesses have also been offered the option of a £25,000 grant to cope with the impact of coronavirus.
Since the announcement, the Government has also introduced a wide-ranging package of targeted measures to provide financial support to businesses during the coronavirus crisis.
- Identify your off-payroll contractors
- Determine the status of off-payroll contractors
- CEST – HMRC employment status checker for tax purposes
- Communication – liaise with affected workforce
- Contracts – get them compliant
- Consider the Ward Hadaway toolkit
It is almost impossible to completely guard against the risks associated with contractor insolvency, but there are some steps which can assist in mitigating and managing the risks involved. To be in the best possible position, it is worth considering the following at the outset of any project:
- Check the contractor’s financial position – particularly the specific company which will enter into the building contract, as the employer’s rights will be against this company rather than the business as a whole
- Take legal advice to ensure that the building contract is properly drafted with appropriate provisions to deal with an insolvency event
- Consider requiring a performance bond and/or parent company guarantee (each serve slightly different purposes)
- Obtain collateral warranties from the consultants and sub-contractors involved, so that there are contractual rights against other parties if the contractor is no longer able to meet claims
- Consider requiring retention bonds, advance payment bonds or vesting certificates if necessary
- Project bank accounts and escrow accounts can also provide some further assurances for the parties involved
From 1 July 2020 the furlough scheme has been operating more flexibly.
The key changes from 1 July 2020 were:
- All furloughed employees are subject to the new flexible furlough rules and the new basis for calculating claims
- Furloughed employees can be brought back to work on a part-time basis for any amount of time and can work any work pattern
- Employers can claim for the hours not worked compared the hours the person would normally have worked in that period
- There must be a new written furlough agreement in place to record the agreement with the furloughed employee to return to work part-time
- The new agreement (including a collective agreement) must be made before any period of flexible furlough begins but it may be varied at a later stage if necessary. The agreement must be incorporated into the employee’s contract of employment, either expressly or impliedly
- Employers must keep a record of this agreement until at least 30 June 2025, and they must also keep a record of the hours the furlough employee worked and the hours that they were furloughed
- Employees can be furloughed from 1 July 2020 for any amount of time and more than once
- However, if you re-furloughed an employee after 10 June but before 1 July 2020, they had to be furloughed for an initial period of three consecutive weeks
- Claims for payments under the scheme must not cross calendar months so if you are claiming for the initial three week period of a re-furloughed employee who was furloughed on 12 June for example, you must submit separate claims for the dates in June and July
- Although flexible furlough agreements can last any length of time, you should only submit a claim to HMRC once a week.
Many employees require flexible working now more than ever. That could be reduced hours, working from home, reduced days, etc. Be careful to act fairly when considering these requests as they can be a discrimination claim in the waiting.
A flexible working request is a request for a permanent change to the contract of employment however to encourage a greater take up during this difficult time, you can agree this on a temporary basis.
You had until 23 April 2020 to submit your return in order to be considered for eligibility.