Coronavirus Guidance for Employers and Businesses

Coronavirus Guidance for Employers and Businesses

Information on healthcare advice for employers and support for businesses.

In today’s Budget (11 March 2020) the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a package of measures to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses to ensure the impact of COVID-19 is minimised.

A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable businesses with a turnover of no more than £41 million to apply for a loan of up to £1.2 million, with the government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees. This will unlock up to £1 billion pounds to protect and support small businesses. Businesses can access a range of finance through the government-owned British Business Bank, visit the Bank’s Finance Hub for further information.

For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full. This will provide 2 million businesses with up to £2 billion to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave.

A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

There will be a £3,000 cash grant to 700,000 of our smallest businesses, delivered by Local Authorities, and worth a total of £2 billion.

A number of private lenders are also making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19, including £2 billion from Lloyds Banking Group and £5 billion from NatWest.

Finally, the government is temporarily increasing the business rates retail discount in England to 100% for 2020-21 for properties below £51,000 rateable value. Nearly half of all business properties will not pay a penny of business rates.

If you are an employer or a business owner, you can read and follow the government’s guidance for employers and businesses.

This guidance will assist employers and businesses in providing advice to staff on:

  • the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • how to help prevent spread of all respiratory infections including COVID-19
  • what to do if someone with suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in a workplace setting
  • what advice to give to individuals who have travelled to specific areas, indicated below*
  • advice for the certification of absence from work resulting from COVID-19

ACAS, an independent public body that provides free and impartial advice to employers, employees and their representatives on employment rights, best practice and policies, and resolving workplace conflict, has also published information for employees and employers, including simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff.

*COVID-19: specified countries and areas with implications for returning travellers or visitors arriving in the UK in the last 14 days

Category 1: Travellers should self-isolate, even if asymptomatic, and use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next. Go home or to your destination and then self isolate.

The guidance for Italy applies to travellers who returned from the country on or after 9 March 2020.

Category 2: Travellers do not need to undertake any special measures, but if they develop symptoms they should self-isolate and call NHS 111.

Category 1 countries/areas Category 2 countries/areas
Wuhan city and Hubei Province (China, see map) Cambodia
Iran China*
Daegu or Cheongdo (Republic of Korea, see map) Hong Kong
Italy** Japan
Republic of Korea*

*Except areas of the country specifically referred to in Category 1.

**(i)Travellers who returned from areas of Northern Italy that were under containment measures (see map) between 19 February and 8 March 2020 should self-isolate for 14 days. If they develop symptoms they should contact NHS111. (ii)Travellers who returned from the rest of Italy before 9 March 2020 do not need to undertake any special measures, but if they develop symptoms they should self-isolate and call NHS 111.

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Julie Clements is a journalist writing about business management and leadership.