Coronavirus FAQ

What is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least three months starting from 1 March 2020.

When will the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme be available?

An online service will be available to use to claim on the government website. However, is not available yet. We expect it to be available by the end of April 2020.

How do I know if I’m eligible?

Any employer with a UK payroll and a UK bank account will be able to claim for their employees to be furloughed, but you must have been on your employer’s PAYE payroll before or on 28 February 2020. You can be on any type of contract, including a zero-hour contract or a temporary contract. You can be furloughed under the scheme if you are a foreign national.

Who makes the claim?

Your employer will make the claim on your behalf. 

What will my employer need to make my claim?

Your employer will require the following information to make the claim on the government website

Your PAYE reference number

  • The claim period (start and end date)
  • Amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 weeks)
  • Your bank account number and sort code
  • Your contact name
  • Your phone number

Claims will be made via an online portal and can be backdated to 1st March 2020 if applicable.

How is the grant calculated?

For full time and part-time salaried employees, (who are paid the same amount on a weekly/monthly basis) the employee’s actual salary before tax, as of 28 February, 2020 should be used to calculate the 80%. Once your Employer has worked out how much of the salary that can be claimed, they must then work out the amount of Employer National Insurance Contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions you are entitled to claim. 

How do I receive the grant?

Once HMRC has received the claim for your employers and assessed if the claim is eligible for the grant, they will pay it via BACS payment to a UK bank account.

What is “furlough” and what are the conditions for putting your employees on it?

These are employees who are temporarily sent home because there is no work. The employee’s remains employed by the company when on furlough, but an employee cannot undertake work for or on behalf of the company during this time. Employees hired after 28 February 2020 cannot be furloughed or claimed for in accordance with this scheme. 

Am I allowed to undertake any work on a limited basis when on furlough?

No, to be eligible for the grant, when on furlough, you must not undertake any work for or on behalf of your company. This includes providing services for payment.

There should be no trading income in the period as you have been furloughed because of COVID-19.

Should I be wary of tax avoidance schemes during the COVID-19 breakout?

HMRC are aware of tax avoidance schemes targeting workers returning to the National Health Service (NHS) to help respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

If you are returning to work for the NHS, HMRC is warning you to be very careful not to sign up to any schemes.

What these tax avoidance schemes look like?

The schemes being offered have some common traits such as using an umbrella company, although they may be described differently. Usually, your payments will consist of 2 payments to you:

The first payment is declared as earnings and will go through the umbrella company payroll, at a very low amount.

The second payment, the umbrella company will suggest is not taxable – this payment could be described as a loan, annuity, shares, a capital advance involving mutual, joint or co-ownership, or a payment derived from a line of credit facility.

These schemes attempt to disguise the true level of your income, which normally would be subject to Income Tax and National Insurance contributions. 

What is the general Coronavirus advice?


Transport (avoid rush hour)

Current UK advice states that everyone should try and stop unnecessary contact with other people, also known as ‘social distancing’.

This includes avoiding busy commuting times on public transport. To this end, employers should support their workforce to take these steps by implementing temporary policies such as agreeing to more flexible ways of working. For example, an employer may allow for changing the start and finish times to avoid these busier commuting times or offer extra car parking where possible so that people can avoid using public transport completely.

For individuals who have developed symptoms of COVID-19 (i.e. a new, continuous cough or a high temperature), they should be advised to quickly and directly return home and to remain there and initiate household isolation. If the individual must use public transport to return home, they should maintain social distancing and catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue.

Work travels to areas/countries with the virus

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (“FCO”) has advised British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. This advice takes effect immediately and applies initially for a period of 30 days (from 17 March 2020). This means no travel insurance will be valid for international travel.

Full details of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office for individual countries can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

If you fear a colleague might be infected, what to do?

Employers and colleagues should consider having an open conversation with the individual to determine the best course of action. If the employee is showing the described symptoms or has recently returned from a high-risk country, the advice in the previous sections should be followed.

Rules for employees travelling to countries/areas advised against/considered risk area by the government

The FCO now advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. This advice takes effect immediately and applies initially for a period of 30 days (from 17 March 2020). This means no travel insurance will be valid for international travel.

Full details of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office for individual countries can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Where employees travel to high-risk countries against advice and are unable to return to work in the UK beyond annual leave for any reason (other than for sickness absence), an employer may be entitled to treat this as unpaid leave if the contract of employment expressly provides for this.

Further, employers may wish for the employee to use annual leave to cover this period. The employer can enforce this provided they inform the individual at least twice as many days before as the amount of days they need people to take.

Where can I find information about the virus?

For information relating to COVID-19 can be found at the UK NHS website.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

How is the virus infecting?

Current UK guidance states that although evidence regarding COVID-19 is still emerging, information to date indicates human-to-human transmission is occurring. Hence, precautions to prevent human-to-human transmissions, such as social distancing and self-isolation, are appropriate for both suspected and confirmed cases. Viruses which are similar in nature are spread in cough droplets, with it being highly unlikely for transmission to occur through items such as packages or food.”

Can I infect others during the period of incubation? Our view on the question above is based on the following:

Current UK guidance states that patients will not be infectious until the onset and throughout the presence of symptoms. The infectiousness of individuals depends on the severity of their symptoms and the stage of their illness. There have been case reports that suggest infectivity during the asymptomatic period can occur. Further study is required and being conducted to determine the actual occurrence and impact of asymptomatic transmission.

How sick can I become of the new virus?

Initial clinical findings from patients to date have been shared by China and WHO state that the main symptoms reported are fever, cough or chest tightness, and dyspnoea. While most patients have a mild illness, severe cases are also being reported, some of whom require intensive care.

At the current time and based on the present understanding of COVID-19 and other similar respiratory viruses, it is likely that older people and those with chronic medical conditions may be vulnerable to severe disease. As more information emerges, recommendations of the UK government may change.

What are the symptoms of the new virus?

Current UK guidance states that the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are a new, continuous cough (this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)) or a high temperature (this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)). For most people, COVID-19 will be a mild infection.