What other financial support is there for businesses?
Aside from the CBILS Scheme, the Government have, or are in the process of, implementing several different schemes to support businesses financially through the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Government guidance does not require any business to close except some non-essential shops and public venues, so in theory, all businesses can continue to occupy and operate from their existing premises. However, government guidance strongly encourages businesses to arrange for everybody able to work from home to do so. The majority of office sector business will fall into this category.
In the industrial sector, the majority of businesses will not be able to operate via home working and will, therefore, need to retain employees on site though in some cases this may be able to be scaled back.
Any tenants continuing to operate from their premises should consider whether or not they need to make any alterations to the premises to facilitate social distancing of employees and whether or not such works would require a consent from the Landlord under the terms of the lease.
The government has stated that the scheme will apply to apprentices and that they can continue to train whilst they are furloughed. However you must pay at least the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage, National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage for all periods of training during furlough leave, taking into account the rate increases from 1 April 2020 and the increases which will take effect from 1 April 2021. This means that you will be responsible for any shortfall in the amount claimed under the scheme and the appropriate minimum wage.
We recommend that you get in touch to discuss any queries on furloughing apprentices.
Yes, but as a last resort. In summary, the law requires employers:
- to assess the workplace risks posed to new or expectant mothers or their babies;
- to alter the employee’s working conditions or hours of work to avoid any significant risk to them;
- where it is not reasonable to alter working conditions or hours, or would not avoid the risk, to offer suitable alternative work on terms that are not “substantially less favourable”;
- where suitable alternative work is not available, or the employee reasonably refuses it, the employer should consider whether it is appropriate to suspend the employee on full pay.
The guidance from the Government concerning private sector organisations is very different from the guidance for public sector and organisations that receive public funding. The guidance states:
“The government expects that the scheme will not be used by many public sector organisations, as the majority of public sector employees are continuing to provide essential public services or contribute to the response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, we expect employers to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion – and correspondingly not furlough them. This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs. Organisations who are receiving public funding specifically to provide services necessary to respond to Covid-19 are not expected to furlough staff.”
This guidance isn’t particularly clear but it appears that there is a recognition that there are different types of organisations which could be caught by this:
- Organisations who will be required to provide frontline services during the Covid-19 response. It is interpreted that NHS organisations such as NHS Trusts will fall firmly into this category. Employees of such organisations are expected not to be furloughed and to continue to work and be paid their normal salary in the usual way.
- Organisations who receive public funding to provide services to respond to the Covid-19 crisis. These organisations are not expected to furlough their staff. The type of organisation that would fit into this category are those that have been commissioned to developing breathing apparatus or testing kits to meet the needs of the healthcare sector during the peak of the pandemic.
- Organisations who receive public funds for staff costs to operate services. Employers are expected to continue to pay staff if the money to pay them is publicly funded. It is strongly inferred that this is irrespective of whether such staff have any work to perform. The type of organisation that is likely to fall into this category are GP practices, charities and private sector companies that have won contracts with the public sector.
HM Treasury have no current plans to pause the collection of apprenticeship levy payments from employers, therefore levy-paying employers must continue to make payments. There is also no plan to extend the 24 month period allowed to spend levy funds.