In these frequently asked questions, find guidance across a range of topics and issues including:
- Government and financial support
- Meetings, travel and events
The best practice advice regarding government and financial support and employment is up to date as of 22 December 2021.
What does my business need to know about the latest guidance and restrictions?
Latest guidance overview
The ‘Working Safely’ guidance for employers in England has been replaced with a set of public health principles for reducing the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19, in the workplace.
Government and financial support
Where can I find details about the financial support available for my business?
- The government have created a coronavirus business support finder tool. By completing a simple questionnaire, the tool will signpost you to relevant government financial support available
- The CBI has compiled information about the different financial support schemes, and which ones your business could be eligible for.
How can businesses get extra time to make tax payments?
- HMRC’s Time to Pay system can help businesses facing short-term cash flow issues
- On 21 December, the UK government announced that it had instructed HMRC to offer businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in particular, the option of a short delay and payments in instalments on a case-by-case basis.
What guidance is available for businesses on insurance?
- The CBI has produced an SME insurance guide with the Association of British Insurers and the British Insurance Brokers’ Association
- The Association of British Insurers coronavirus information hub has guidance and commons questions relating to travel, business, trade credit insurance and much more
- The British Insurance Brokers’ Association has information on coronavirus and the insurance industry on its website to help businesses with common questions and updates.
How should businesses support flexible working for employees who can work from home?
- The CBI has published a practical guide highlighting key considerations and top tips for businesses making the long-term shift to hybrid working.
What should employers do to help keep their staff safe from COVID-19?
- Employers should follow public health advice to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. This has replaced specific restrictions and COVID-19 workplace guidance
- Specific guidance remains in place for laboratory or health and social care work settings
- Employers may still choose to continue to cover COVID-19 in their health and safety risk assessments, but this is no longer a requirement for all businesses
- Employers may still ask staff to follow occupational COVID-19 policies, such as testing before coming on site, isolating if experiencing symptoms or notifying if they are a confirmed case
- Employers should consider whether specific working arrangements may be needed, for example to maintain the confidence of people who were previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19
- Read HSE guidance for more information.
How can employers help employees stay mentally healthy while working from home or self-isolating?
- Supporting employees’ mental wellbeing has never been more important at a time where many people are working from home or are self-isolating
- Employers should clearly communicate to their employees about where they can receive support if they are experiencing mental ill health by:
- Sign-posting to all available resources, employee assistance programmes or in-house mental health first aiders
- Making all information available in one place and accessible to all employees
- Asking managers to regularly check-in on the wellbeing of individuals in their teams
- Encouraging peer support through existing employee resource groups.
- Discover more in the CBI’s helpful factsheets:
- Leaders and managers can demonstrate compassionate leadership by:
- Having positive conversations with their teams about what they can do to support their mental health
- Developing a better understanding of an individual’s stress triggers when working from home or self-isolating and how they can be mitigated
- Establishing new practices such as regular team catch-ups via video calls, including opportunities to connect about non-work issues, e.g. virtual ‘tea-breaks’.
- The CBI has a webinar recording with more ways businesses can support the mental health of their staff during the pandemic.
What should employers do if their staff are off sick and not working because of COVID-19?
- Employers should treat sickness because of COVID-19 like any other absence
- Employees are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay of up to £99.35 per week if too ill to work, or their occupational sickness scheme. The temporary SME employer SSP rebate scheme has now ended
- Managers should be aware of the effects of long COVID-19 and consider what support may be appropriate to help affected staff return to the workplace. Read ACAS guidance for more information.
Is there any flexibility on conducting right to work checks for new starters that start work at home?
- Yes. On 22 February, the government announced that the temporary COVID-19 adjustments to the right to work scheme, which allows employers to check documents and hire staff digitally, will continue until 30 September
- Read Home Office guidance to find out more information
- For other staff, note that from 6 April, employers must conduct an online right to work check for employees who hold Biometric Residence Permits (BRP), Biometric Residence Cards (BRC) or Frontier Worker Permits (FWP) using the Home Office online service
- Employers can use Identity Document Validation Technology to complete the digital identity verification element of right to work checks for British and Irish citizens who hold a valid passport
- Employers can still choose to conduct right to work checks in-person if they wish to do so. More information can be found here.
Is there any flexibility on conducting right to work checks as new starters now start work at home?
- Yes. On 27 August, the government announced that the temporary COVID-19 adjustments to the right to work scheme, which allows employers to check documents and hire staff digitally, will continue until 5 April 2022.
- The Home Office will introduce legislation that allows employers to conduct right to work checks digitally on a permanent basis from 6 April 2022. Employers can still choose to conduct these checks in-person if they wish to do so.
- Read coronavirus: right to work checks for further information
How do I find a testing provider If I want to give free tests to my employees?
- As of 1 April, the government no longer provides free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic lateral flow testing for the general public in England
- To guide employers who wish to provide testing to their employees, the government maintains a list of private testing providers, which is constantly reviewed.
Meetings, travel and events
What is the current advice on international travel, for employees in the UK?
How are other companies managing employees who are stuck abroad or quarantined abroad?
- It is important that firms encourage employees to quarantine abroad and to follow health advice from national authorities
- Some firms with employees stuck abroad have been reaching out proactively to those members of staff to ensure they understand policies with regard to annual leave and sick leave and are supporting them to work from abroad if at all possible
- Some firms with employees quarantined abroad are highlighting access to mental health and wellbeing support.
What is the current advice for travelling to the office and holding meetings?
- Read updated government guidance on holding meetings and events
- Reach out to the CBI to communicate any specific feedback or concerns for your company via our insights inbox
Reach out to the CBI to communicate any specific feedback or concerns on your company via our coronavirus inbox.
Decisions about actions to take will be different for every company, and this guidance cannot substitute legal advice or that of the government.