The first question on everyone’s lips during the coronavirus pandemic is will my loved ones be OK? Or, depending on the person’s disposition, maybe it is, will I be OK? Your health is definitely more important than money but following on from your primary concern your mind will then become inundated with questions about money, or the lack of it.
Where will my next pay check come from and when? How am I going to pay my mortgage, or rent? How can I feed my family? How can I afford to pay my bills?
Thankfully, for more than 25 million employees across the UK, the answers to all those questions came when the government revealed unprecedented measures to support businesses and the economy.
What does it mean?
Due to the sheer volume of businesses across all sectors that have had to close temporarily due to the pandemic, Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently announced the Coronavirus Job Protection Scheme. This scheme will ensure employees get paid up to 80% of their salary, covering wages of up to £2,500 per month which will stop employers having to lay off staff.
Mr Sunak said: “I know that people are worried about losing their jobs, about not being able to pay the rent or mortgage, about not having enough set by for food and bills… to all those at home right now, anxious about the days ahead, I say this: you will not face this alone.”
Who qualifies for the scheme?
Unlike other government measures that have been implemented the Job Protection Scheme is available to all UK employers including companies that have already had to lay off staff due to the coronavirus shutdown – as long as they are taken back by their employers and then granted a leave of absence. In fact, anybody who has been laid off due to the coronavirus crisis should be contacting their former employer to discuss this crucial issue.
Companies accessing the fund will have to designate any employees they are claiming for as ‘furloughed workers’ and inform each one of this change. Employers are not obliged to fund any differences between the 80% subsidy and workers actual salaries but can do so if they wish.
How long is it for and how do I apply?
The subsidised wages can be backdated to the start of March and the support will initially be available for three months although this can be extended if necessary.
Employers will have to submit information about their furloughed employees and earnings to HMRC via a new online portal and every effort is being made to ensure this is up and running as soon as possible. You will need to keep checking with HMRC to see when the system goes live.
The unemployment rate prior to the pandemic was just below 4% and was predicted to rise to 6%. However, without these business support measures the rate would have escalated to a disastrous 8%. Thanks to intervention from the government, workers will now be able to keep their jobs regardless of whether their employers can afford to pay them.
So many questions still being asked and arguably the most important one in the business community is, what can the government do to support the 5 million self-employed?
To find out more about the Job Protection Scheme and how to access it, click here.
If you would like to speak with one of our experts for further business advice in these difficult times, please visit: https://www.businessbutlerswansea.com/