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 15 July 2021.
What does my business need to know about step 4 of the roadmap?
Changes to self-isolation policy in England from 16 August
Construction and other outdoor work
Events and attractions
Hotels and guest accommodation
Offices, factories and labs
Restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs and takeaway services
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.
What is the extended Job Retention Scheme and how does it work?
- At the Spring Budget 2021, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the extension of the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) until the end of September
- From July, the government will introduce an employer contribution towards the cost of unworked hours of 10% in July, 20% in August and 20% in September
- For further guidance, visit the CBI’s factsheet exploring the Job Retention Scheme.
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
- If you run a business or are self-employed and are concerned about paying your tax due to coronavirus, you can call HMRC’s helpline for help and advice: 0800 024 1222.
What support is available for the self-employed?
- If you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) you might be able to use the Self-employment Income Support Scheme to claim a grant.
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 is now running a coronavirus information hub which is updated daily for advice, guidance and commons questions relating to travel, business, trade credit insurance and much more
- The British Insurance Brokers’ Association are publishing daily updates on coronavirus and the insurance industry on its website to help businesses with common questions and updates
- Businesses can also check the government website for guidance on business insurance.
How should businesses support flexible working for employees who can work from home?
- Following the publications of business guidance ahead of step 4 of the roadmap, from 19 July, the government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, so employers can start to plan a safe return to workplaces. During this period of high prevalence, the government expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer
- The CBI has published a practical guide highlighting key considerations and top tips for businesses making the long-term shift to hybrid working.
How can businesses help employees manage their holiday entitlement?
- The government has announced amendments to the Working Time Regulations (WTR) that will allow all workers to carry over up to four weeks’ paid holiday over a two-year period (up to March 2022)
- This will be possible in cases where it has not been reasonably practicable for a worker to take some or all of this leave as a result of the effects of coronavirus (including on the worker, the employer or on the wider economy or society)
- These amendments do not impact on the 1.6 weeks of Additional Leave that the WTR provides or on any other leave that a worker may be contractually entitled to. Both can be carried over, subject to agreement between the employer and the individual
- Employers retain the ability under the WTR to require their employees to take, or not take, leave at specific times
- While furloughed employees can take annual leave, employers must ensure they are paid the correct holiday pay, which is likely to be higher than the rate of pay covered by government grants and the employer contribution
- Employers should always consider the employee relations of changes to holiday entitlements, and discuss any planned changes as a result of the coronavirus with staff as soon as possible
- To enable these changes, the government has relaxed employers’ obligation to ensure that their workers take their statutory entitlement in any one year. However, it remains good practice for employers to still encourage workers and employees to take their paid holiday, given the importance of time off from work to people’s wellbeing
- Further information can be found on the gov.uk information page.
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 changes have been made to statutory sick pay (SSP)?
- The government has updated Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rules to help ensure staff stay at home and do not go to work if they or someone in their household is sick
- Employees who are sick or cannot work from home whilst self-isolating are eligible for SSP, even if they themselves are not ill
- Employees are entitled to SSP from day one. NHS Test and Trace will provide employees with evidence that they have been told to isolate, and how long for
- If you require further evidence, you can ask employees to get an online NHS isolation note
- Employers that offer contractual sick pay should continue paying this to individuals that are sick or have to self-isolate and cannot work from home
- Read government guidance on claiming back SSP and find further information on SSP on gov.uk, and on self-isolation and sick pay on the ACAS website.
What financial support has the government pledged for businesses paying SSP?
- Employers with fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020 are eligible for a rebate covering up to two weeks’ SSP costs per employee if they have been off work because of COVID-19
- Employers can claim SSP relief for employees with all types of employment contracts, including employees on flexible, agency or zero-hours contracts
- Smaller employers are not able to reclaim SSP costs where employees are required to self-isolate for more than 14 days, either in one or a subsequent period(s)
- Larger employers, with more than 250 employees, are not eligible for any relief on SSP costs
- Read government guidance on support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees
- SMEs can claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus through the government’s online portal.
Is there any flexibility on conducting right to work checks as new starters now commence work at home?
- Yes, but this comes to an end on 31 August
- Before then, employers can carry out checks over video calls, and individuals can send scanned copies or photos of documents rather than originals
- After 31 August, employers must revert to face to face and physical document checks, as set out in legislation and guidance
- Read coronavirus: right to work checks for further information.
Does the government scheme of free asymptomatic testing for all mean that workplaces do not need to undertake workplace testing?
- As of 11:59pm on 19 July 2021, firms can no longer register to order free rapid lateral flow tests for employees or order free rapid lateral flow tests
- Rapid lateral flow tests remain available for individuals in England.
Meetings, travel and events
What is the current advice on international travel, for employees in the UK?
- For international travel in England there is a traffic-light system in operation, with countries placed either on green, amber, or red travel lists. Found out more about what rules you must follow to enter England here
- From 19 July fully vaccinated (by the NHS other vaccines even those recognised by UK currently don’t count for international travel) people returning to England from amber list countries will not need to quarantine
- For more information, see further government advice on foreign travel. In the UK, different rules apply in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
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 advise for travelling to the office and holding meetings?
- Also from 19 July, the government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, so employers can start to plan a return to workplaces. During this period of high prevalence, the government expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer
- From 19 July, government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport. This is not a legal requirement, and the decisions lies with each travel company and in some cases devolved authorities
- Meetings and events can take place from 19 July in line with government guidance which can be found here.
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.