COVID-19 BRIEFING FOR SME’S ISSUED AT 0830 hrs on 13th MAY 2020

OVERVIEW

The revised Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The revised Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

Last week we set out the changes to the SEISS, which are designed to provide extra financial help for self-employed people.

Originally, HMRC announced that they would initiate contact with people who they believed met the criteria for this scheme. However, they are now inviting people to start their claim by completing an online form.

Before you make your claim you need to check your eligibility by assembling the information laid out in our previous posting 5 May 2020 – see above link. HMRC aim to make payments directly in to people’s bank accounts by Monday 25th May. As with the other recent Government support schemes, the expected high volume of applications may mean that some delays may occur. It is also possible that some people who believe that have a legitimate claim and complete the online application may be initially incorrectly rejected. This should only happen in a small number of cases and may be triggered by something as simple as a minor error in completion of the application form. We therefore strongly urge you double-check the information you enter on the claim form.

Extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – the ‘Furlough’ scheme

Extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – the ‘Furlough’ scheme

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has now provided updated information on this ‘Furlough’ scheme, which was originally due to end on 30th June. Here are the changes:

  1. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until 31st October
  2. Furloughed workers across the UK will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500
  3. New flexibility will be introduced from August to help get some furloughed employees back to work

The current CJRS will continue unchanged until 31st July. Thereafter, changes will allow more flexibility. From the beginning of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time, with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff. The employer payments will subsidise/substitute the contribution the Government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month. By 31st May, the Government will issue guidance on how these revised arrangements will be
structured.

The Government is also exploring ways in which furloughed workers who wish to do additional training or learn new skills are supported during this period up to 31st October and, following continued consultation with interested parties, will issue further guidelines ‘as soon as possible’. We will let you know the content of these guidelines as soon as they are published.

EMPLOYERS’ COMPULSORY COVID-19 ASSESSMENTS + ADDITIONAL GUIDANCE

EMPLOYERS’ COMPULSORY COVID-19 ASSESSMENTS + ADDITIONAL GUIDANCE

With more people returning to their places of work, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a set of legal requirements with which employers must comply to keep their staff safe.

In addition, the Government has issued useful advice and guidance to help employers, employees and the selfemployed understand how to work safely during the pandemic. The guidance covers 8 Key sectors:

  • Construction and Other Outdoor Work
  • Factories, Plants and Warehouses
  • Laboratories and Research Facilities
  • Offices and Contact Centres
  • Other Peoples’ Homes
  • Restaurants/Cafes Offering Takeaway and/or Delivery Services
  • Shops and Multi-Outlet Branches
  • Vehicles & Allied Activities

Travel Guidance

TRAVEL GUIDANCE

The Government is encouraging people who cannot work at home to return to their places of work. There is, however, concern about potentially increasing the spread of Covid-19 by many more people travelling, particularly on public transport at peak times. The Department for Transport has issued detailed travel guidance, which we summarise here:

Walking and Cycling

Walking and cycling will reduce pressure on the public transport system and the road network. Consider walking and cycling if you can. Local cycling schemes can be used. Your Local Council can help you plan your journey by providing maps showing dedicated paths and routes.

Where possible, try to maintain social distancing when you walk or cycle, for example when approaching or passing other pedestrians or waiting at crossings and traffic lights. When using bikes, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands before and after cycling.

Public transport

Plan your journey – Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport. Before and during your journey, check with your transport operator for the latest travel advice on your route. Travel may take longer than normal on some routes due to reduced capacity and social distancing measures. Allow sufficient time if your journey involves changes between different forms of transport. Plan ahead by identifying alternative routes and options in case of unexpected disruption.

If you can, travel at off-peak times. Your transport operator can advise on off-peak times. Your employer may agree alternative or flexible working hours to support this. Where possible, book your travel online through your transport provider’s ticketing app or website. Consider contactless payment to buy tickets.

Taking a less busy route and reducing the number of changes (for example between bus and train) will help you keep your distance from others. Public Health England recommends 2-metre social distancing; where this is not possible you should keep the time you spend near others as short as possible and avoid physical contact. Try to start or end your journey using a station or mode of transport you know to be quieter or more direct. For instance, walk the first or last part of your journey, or alight at an earlier station, where this is possible.

What to take with you

There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas. If you can, wear a face covering if you need to use public transport. A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These should
continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust or chemical/gas hazards. Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by the law. If you choose to wear one, it is important to wash your hands before putting them on and after taking them off.

On your journey

Some routes may be busier than usual due to social distancing measures or changes to previous timetables or schedules. Keep your distance from people outside your household. The key thing is to not be too close to other people for more than a short amount of time – and always try to keep 2-metres apart. The risk of infection increases the closer you are to another person with the virus and the amount of time you spend in close contact; reassuringly, you are very unlikely to be infected from just walking past another person.

There may be situations where you can’t keep a suitable distance from people, for example when boarding or alighting, on busier services, at busier times of day and when walking through interchanges. In these cases you should avoid physical contact, try to face away from other people, and keep the time you spend near others as short as possible. If you can, wear a face covering on public transport. Be aware of the surfaces you touch. Be careful not to touch your face. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.

Treat transport staff with respect and follow instructions from your transport operator. This may include:

  • Notices about which seats to use or how to queue
  • Additional screens, barriers or floor markings
  • Requests to board through different doors or to move to less busy areas

Help keep you, other passengers and transport staff safe:

  • Wait for passengers to get off first before you board
  • Ensure you maintain social distancing, where possible, including at busy entrances, exits, under canopies, bus stops, platforms or outside of stations
  • Be prepared to queue or take a different entrance or exit at stations
  • Wait for the next service if you cannot safely keep your distance on board a train, bus or coach
  • Respect other people’s space while travelling
  • Avoid consuming food and drink on public transport
  • Be aware of pregnant, older and disabled people who may require a seat or extra space
  • Be aware that some individuals may have hidden disabilities

Seek assistance if you need it

If you require assistance when travelling and would normally contact your transport operator ahead of time, continue to do so. If any problems arise or you feel ill during your journey, speak to a member of transport staff. In the case of an emergency, contact the emergency services as you normally would. If you need help, maintain a short distance from members of staff, where possible. If this isn’t possible, you should try to avoid physical contact and keep the time you spend near staff as short as possible.

Children on public transport

Where travel is necessary, consider whether children could walk or cycle, accompanied by a responsible adult or carer, where appropriate. Social distancing applies to children as well as adults. Children should keep their distance from others who are not in their household, where possible. If this isn’t possible children should avoid physical contact, face away from others, and keep the time spent near others as short as possible. If you are the responsible adult or carer travelling with children, please help them follow this guidance, wear face coverings, minimise the
surfaces they touch and maintain their distance from others, where possible. Children under 2 years old are not recommended to wear face coverings. Schools may have additional guidance in place for children on transport which we recommend you follow.

Completing your journey

When finishing your journey, we recommend you:

  • Consider walking or cycling from the station or stop you arrived at
  • Follow local guidance
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible – and do the same for children within your care if they have travelled too

Taxis and private hire vehicles

At taxi ranks try to keep your distance from people outside your household. Taxi and private hire vehicle (for example minicab) operators are likely to have put in place new measures to help with social distancing. When traveling in taxis or private hire vehicles follow the advice of the driver. For example, you may be asked to sit in the back left hand seat if travelling alone. You may want to check with your taxi operator before travelling if they have put any additional measures in place. If you need to be near other people you should avoid physical contact, try to face away from other people, and keep the time you spend near other people as short as possible. Be aware of the surfaces you or others touch.

There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas. If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by the
law. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and after taking them off.

When finishing your journey, we recommend you:

  • Follow local guidance
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible

Private cars and other vehicles

Plan your journey route, including any breaks, before setting out. Try to stay as local as possible to your home. Routes may be different as local areas make changes to enable social distancing on pavements and cycle routes. If you normally share a vehicle with people from other households for essential journeys, we recommend you find a different way to travel. For example, consider walking, cycling or using your own vehicle if you can. If you have to travel with people outside your household group, try to share the transport with the same people each time and keep to small groups of people at any one time.

On your journey

If driving, you should anticipate more pedestrians and cyclists than usual, especially at peak times of day. Allow other road users to maintain social distance, where possible. For example, give cyclists space at traffic lights. Limit the time you spend at garages, petrol stations and motorway services. Try to keep your distance from other people and if possible pay by contactless. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands when arriving and leaving.

Be aware of the surfaces you or others touch. If people from different households use a vehicle (for example through a car share scheme), you should clean it between journeys using gloves and standard cleaning products. Make sure you clean door handles, steering wheel and other areas that people may touch. Where people from different households need to use a vehicle at the same time, good ventilation (keeping the car windows open) and facing away from each other may help to reduce the risk of transmission. If you are in close proximity to people outside your household, you should:

  • Avoid physical contact
  • Try to face away from them
  • Keep the time you spend close to them as short as possible

When finishing your journey, we recommend you:

  • Follow local guidance
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible

International travel

If travelling abroad is essential, make sure you check the latest:
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice, and
coronavirus essential international travel guidance before travelling.

Check your specific plans with your airline, ferry, train operator or accommodation provider, and inform your insurance provider.

At all points in your journey it is important that you follow social distancing guidelines and consider wearing a face covering. You should review and follow any rules and Government guidance set by your destination country – and check public health advice when returning to the UK. Your transport provider may put measures in place to help you follow the guidance of the destination country.

When finishing your journey, we recommend you:

  • Follow all local guidance
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible

Checklists for safer travel

Checklists for safer travel

Plan your journey:

  • Can I walk or cycle to my destination?
  • Have I checked the latest travel advice from my transport operator?
  • Have I booked my travel ticket online, bought a pass or checked if contactless payment is possible?
  • Have I planned my journey to minimise crowded areas and allow for delays?
  • Am I taking the most direct route to my destination?

What to take with you:

  • A plan for my journey
  • Contactless payment card or pass
  • Phone (if needed for travel updates, tickets, contactless payments)
  • Tickets
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Essential medicines
  • Tissues
  • A face covering, if required

Finally, here’s a link to a downloadable infographic travel advice poster; it may be useful to print and display in your workplace: Travel Advice Poster

We will issue further advice and guidance Bulletins as the Covid-19 situation develops.

Sir Henry Boyle
0830 hrs 13th May 2020

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

London: 020 7082 8100 | Kent: 01303 760 805 | Bucks/Berks: 01494 419 192

X
Back to top