Coronavirus General

Schools shutting down will be ‘hard for working parents’

From 20/03/20 all schools in the UK will be shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19 which will may prove to be “hard for working parents”.

Gavin Williamson, education secretary announced on the 18/03/20 in parliament that all schools, private schools, further education colleges, sixth-form colleges and early-years care providers should close down.

Still, schools will remain open to children of “key workers” such as NHS staff, emergency services workers and delivery drivers so they can still carry out their jobs uninterrupted.

Scotland and Wales had already made this announcement earlier in the day, with Northern Ireland closing their schools on the 18/03/20.

Jamie Mackenzie, director at Sodexo Engage said:

“During this time of crisis, employers need to create an inclusive and supportive environment for all its staff, whatever their situation. While the health and safety of teachers and pupils are of course of the upmost importance right now, there is no denying that school and nursery closures are going to be hard for working parents.

At this critical time employers need to be as accommodating as possible and be mindful of those who need to look after their families. Recent research has shown that only 14 per cent of UK workers have been told to work from home by their employer during the coronavirus outbreak – but having this facility and more flexible working hours will be a huge benefit for working parents right now to reduce the extra pressures. Businesses must encourage employees to talk about their families and concerns with their employees and offer as much support as possible – there’s never been a more crucial time to put the right and necessary support structures in place.”

Jane van Zyl, chief executive of Working Families, the UK’s work-life balance charity said:

“Many working parents and carers with young children are already working from home, as recommended by the Government. Now that schools are closed, they find themselves needing to juggle work with looking after their children – including supporting their learning – at home.

Employers should continue to pay parents and carers as usual while they are working from home. Now’s the time for line managers to have sensible and understanding conversations with parents and carers of young children – particularly those working full-time – about what is needed, and what is and isn’t possible, over the coming weeks.

It’s important that the Government provides support to employers that can’t afford to continue to pay staff who are unable to work from home. This includes small employers that cannot afford to absorb any fall in productivity due to the parents and carers they employ having to work from home whilst looking after their children. Particular attention should be paid to supporting parents and carers in insecure work, including the self-employed, as they are most at risk of not being paid.

Now’s also the time for the Government to remind employers of parents’ and carers’ right to emergency time off for dependants while schools are closed, which means they cannot be dismissed or treated unfavourably as a result. This is an important right for those in insecure work who are at a higher risk of not having a job to return to.”

Source HRreview 19-03-2020

Coronavirus General

Bank of England boss: Don’t fire people because of pandemic

Firms thinking of firing staff due to the coronavirus crisis should consider the support available to them first, the new Bank of England boss has said.

Andrew Bailey urged UK firms to “stop, look at what’s available, come and talk to us [or] the government before you take that position”.

He added that his “big message” for firms and citizens was that “we will be there to support your needs”.

Many firms may have to cut staff amid a slump in demand caused by the virus.

Airlines, retailers, restaurants, theatres and pubs have all said they have been pushed to the brink as people are limiting all but essential social contact.

On Tuesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak responded with a £350bn stimulus package to support struggling firms, including £330bn of business loan guarantees.

He also promised a business rates holiday and grants for retailers and pubs – although there are concerns the measures do not go far enough.

Asked if the loan subsidies were available even to those companies that had already fired people, Mr Bailey told the BBC: “I would emphasise the point that it’s critical that we support the needs of the people in the country.”

Asked again if the authorities were providing a “bridge” beyond the crisis for people who need to buy food, as well for businesses, the governor said there were “important discussions” going on between companies and the Treasury.

The message, he said, was that “supporting the employment and income of the people in this country is critical”.

Source BBC 18-03-2020

General Taxation

Increasing the flat rate tax deduction for homeworking:

The government will increase the maximum flat rate tax deduction available where employees incur additional household costs where they work at home under homeworking arrangements, from £4 per week to £6 per week. This will take effect from April 2020.

Source HMRC March 2020

General Taxation

Employment Allowance increases for National Insurance from April 2020

This measure increases the maximum Employment Allowance by £1,000 to £4,000 from April 2020. This means eligible businesses and charities will be able to claim a greater reduction on their Secondary Class 1 National Insurance contributions liability. Separate to this Budget measure, HMRC has also previously announced that from 6 April 2020, eligibility rules for claiming the Employment Allowance will change – the £4,000 will count towards de minimis State aid ceilings. For more information on this please visit GOV.UK.

Source HMRC March 2020


HMRC telephone scam

A new telephone scam where bogus callers pose as HMRC leaving threatening messages to call back or face the consequences.

HMRC takes security very seriously and this is a further reminder that you need to be alert. If you cannot verify the identity of the person making the call you should not disclose your personal details or call them back.

You should report these incidents on the Action Fraud website or you can call them on 0300 123 2040 (Please note this number will be charged at your normal network rate). They are open Monday to Friday 09:00 – 18:00.

Source CIPP 14-11-2018