We’d normally be focusing on tax planning & budget setting at this point in the year. The main topic for conversations with our clients though, as expected, is all around Coronavirus, and the implications it may have on their business.
The main questions we are getting are:
- How will AE cope with looking after us, should there be a lockdown. Will my service be affected?
- Do I have to pay my employees should they be off sick or self isolate?
- Is there any additional support available for my business?
Our main priorities are two-fold. Firstly, the health of our team, families, and customers is of utmost importance and secondly, we want to ensure that our customers are supported in these challenging times.
There’s lot’s to cover, so here we go…………
How it’ll work at AE
All our systems and software are cloud-based and our team regularly works from home with our flexible home working structure. So, there won’t be any disruption to phone and email support
It’s important that all your regular deadlines are continued to be met, so we have robust systems in place to make sure your VAT, PAYE, Accounts and Corporation Tax filings are all done and payments are made on time, wherever we are physically located.
Following the Prime Ministers update this afternoon about unnecessary travel, we have decided not to hold any more face to face meetings in the near future. We’ll keep the meetings that are in the diary, but they will be held by phone or by using video conferencing (Zoom).
It’s likely that some clients will need additional 1-1 support. If you need a call to discuss the impact on your business, feel free to book one into Stuart’s diary, using this link
How to deal with the various employee issues you might face
If Staff isolate due to illness
If your team members are ill, you need to be as flexible and supportive as possible giving all the usual advice of self-isolation.
If your team members are sick you will need to keep records of absences, but they do not need to provide a GP sick note (as they usually would with other illnesses). You would then pay them Statutory sick pay. Usually, an employee has to wait for 3 days before the SSP takes effect. However, the government has abolished this with illnesses related to Covid-19.
SSP is usually paid by the employer too, with no ability to claim it back from HMRC. However, the government is allowing you to claim it back through your PAYE. If you have a PAYE bill, the SSP is deducted from the amount due following the payroll month. If you do not, you will be due a repayment back from the HMRC.
As this legislation has been rushed in, payroll systems are not geared up to calculate and submit your SSP claims to HMRC, nor are HMRC systems ready to process them. That could mean there’s a delay in getting any repayments back.
If you close the office
You will still be liable to pay staff full wages, this is the advice currently being given by ACAS.
If the team are self-isolating to take care of others with the illness
ACAS is currently saying this is down to the employer’s discretion and is subject to your employment contracts.
If you do not have any policy to allow for caring time, paid or unpaid you are not legally obliged. However, they have suggested, in the midst of the virus, some employers are allowing staff to use holidays towards their time off, to allow for your employees to be less financially constrained.
What Support can I get for my business?
HMRC have announced a number of initiatives to help small businesses at this time
Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be working on:
- Cashflow webinars, should there be enough demand
- 1-1 calls with clients where extra support is needed
- Determining and supporting those that need deeper work (e.g. cashflow forecasting)
Some final thoughts
There’s no doubt the next few weeks/ months are going to be difficult. There are a few small things you could do to keep your local economy going:
- If you’re ordering a takeaway, order it directly, rather than through Just Eat. That extra couple of £, could make a difference
- Support your local coffee shops, rather than the big chains
- Buy vouchers from your favourite restaurant, to enjoy once all this is over
and anything else you can think of……….