Emergency Government Employment Measures

At the Prime Minister’s daily press conference on the COVID-19 Pandemic, Chancellor Rishi Sunak presented a number of emergency measures to assist businesses with retaining their employees amid the economic downturn. Assistance has also been provided to the self-employed.

The Chancellor described these measures as ‘unprecedented in the history of the British state’ and one of the most ‘comprehensive’ economic responses in the world

Below we summarise the measures which you or your business should be aware of:

Corona Virus Jobs Retention Scheme

  • Any employer in the country will be eligible to contact HMRC via this new scheme for a grant to cover most of the wages for workers who are not working but still on payroll;
  • The government grants will cover up to 80% of workers’ wages, up to £2500 per month;
  • This measure aims to help employers keep on employees even if they cannot afford to pay them;
  • Employees can opt to top up salaries on top of government grants, to ensure pre-pandemic salary levels if they so choose;
  • The government has stressed there is no limit on the amount of funding available to this scheme;
  • While a precise timeline has not been given, the first grants are said to ‘be paid within weeks’, and certainly ‘by the end of April;
  • The scheme is said to cover a number of employment arrangements, from zero hours contracts to normal PAYE arrangements; and
  • The Chancellor has indicated ‘detailed guidance’ will be available shortly on the scheme.

Measures for the Self-Employed

  • The government will be suspending the minimum income floor in order to allow self-employed people to access universal credit; and
  • The amount of universal credit available will be at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay for employees.

Should you require any assistance with your employment arrangements during this difficult period, do not hesitate to contact the co-head partners of our employment department.  Ewan Keen can be reached at 020 3206 2724 or ewan.keen@smab.co.uk or 020 3206 2739 or tamara.ludlow@smab.co.uk.