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The following scenarios have been created as a guide to assist you in the steps you should take in the coming weeks and months (based on current and available guidance, this guidance is being updated on a daily basis).

What if your employee has the virus, has been in contact with someone who is displaying symptoms, or is in the at risk category and wants to self isolate?

  • If they have been in contact with someone and could potentially be at risk of contracting the virus, they would be granted SSP at £94.25 per week for 14 days.  HMRC will refund this to the employer in the usual way via the business' PAYE account.
  • If your employee wants to self isolate and does not display symptoms, but they are in the 'at risk' category or for general health concerns, would like to self isolate, then a sympathetic approach to accommodate working from home, should be considered where possible.  Where this is not possible, the employee could be asked to take unpaid leave (this is only in situations where businesses are still able to trade and the employee chooses not to go to work, businesses that are required to close have different options, see below).
  • If your employee has corona virus, they would be eligible for SSP in the usual way, this would be reimbursed from day 1 of sickness and for 14 days.  As most cases of the virus are mild, this should be enough to cover the period of absence.  However, if it is a more serious case, the employer would take over payments of SSP as normal on day 15 of SSP, if the employee was still absent from work.  Employees should get a fit note from NHS 111, here, as opposed to approaching their GP for this.  

What if your self employed and unable to work, either due to lack of trade or contracting the virus?
The government are under huge pressure to address questions from self employed/sole traders who seem to have been short changed under the current proposals, and I would hope there will be more in the coming days to address the points highlighted, but until such times, the options for self employed individuals remains to be;

What if you have to cease trading, or your business has took such a hit that you can't continue to pay your employees?
  • Designate these employees as 'furloughed workers' and notify them, in writing of this change.
  • Keep your employees on payroll and continue to process a payroll for them, and if able to pay them then please do so for as long as is possible.  You should approach your bank who may be able to put in place temporary overdrafts on the basis of this funding, being paid at a later date.
  • It is a condition of being reimbursed that employees do not undertake work for you in this time.
  • Submit information via the HMRC portal to log the employees that have been 'furloughed', this should be live in the coming weeks.
  • The Corona Virus Job Retention Fund will pay 80% of the employees wages for 3 months backdated to the 1st March.  If you cannot afford to pay the other 20% to top up the employees full wage, you are not required to.
  • If you need to access funds before this wage reimbursement becomes live, you will be able to apply for the Business Interruption Loan Fund from the week commencing 23rd March.

About the author

Emma Armstrong

Emma Armstrong

Emma has worked in finance for over 15 years, becoming a self-employed Bookkeeper 11 years ago, and training to become a Certified Accountant before launching B-Able in 2012.

Emma is dedicated to providing her clients with reliable business support.