Coronavirus Hub

The latest guidance for business

The CBI has compiled the latest guidance for businesses like yours across a number of different areas. Understand more about how your business can respond and what support is available to you. 



Most frequently asked questions



What are the most useful things that all businesses in the UK can do to prepare for coronavirus?

  • Ensure governance and HR teams are familiar with government advice for employers 
  • Consider establishing a team to manage the response, with representatives from finance, HR, legal, governance, commercial and any international offices 
  • Communicate with employees in a calm fashion, providing government advice as relevant for your business 
  • Reach out to the CBI to communicate any specific concerns or impacts of coronavirus on your company, for communication to the government’s response teams 
  • Check your firm has considered all the questions on the below Frequently Asked Questions and takes proportionate actions to manage coronavirus.  

When communicating with employees, what is the best approach?

  • Focusing on practical, new information is important – with so much information out there, focus on the changes that are most relevant to your employees and ensure it is up to date
  • Tailor information to the circumstances of individual employees where possible, for example ensuring information is appropriate for individuals’ geographies or isolation statuses
  • Prioritise employees’ wellbeing in communication, ensuring they are reassured and that they have a mechanism with which to communicate any discomfort they may have, so that concerns are well understood and listened to
  • Further advice on communicating with employees is available from CIPR here
  • If you have temporarily closed down your business, do consider how you can support the maintenance of communication routes between employees to help them manage their mental health
  • The CBI have produced a webinar which covers how businesses can support the mental health of their staff during the pandemic
  • The government have also created general guidance for the public on mental health and wellbeing during coronavirus. 

What can businesses do to help?

  • Business’s first priority should be to their employees. The rest of this guidance covers how best to support them 
  • However, businesses have a role to play in helping government and society manage this crisis if they can. Every company should be asking ‘how can we help? 
  • Visit the 'how you can help' tab on this site for ideas on what your business can do
  • The full range of ways that companies can help can be found on the CBI’s dedicated webpage here.

Where can I find details about the financial support available for my business?

  • You can find information about the different financial support schemes, and see which ones your business is eligible for, here. 
  • 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.

What support can I receive as a small business?

  • For all businesses, Q1 VAT payments have been deferred with immediate effect there will be no payments between now and the end of June. Businesses will have until April 2021 to pay this back, easing cash flow immediately. Self-assessment payments are also deferred until January 2021
  • All businesses that have outstanding tax liabilities as a result of cashflow issues can request extra help through HMRC’s Time to Pay system. A dedicated helpline has been launched on 0800 024 1222
  • For small retail, leisure and hospitality businesses, the Business Rates retail discount in England has been raised to 100% for the 12 months of 2020-21 for all retail properties, and retail properties that have a rateable value of below £51,000 will also be eligible for a grant of up to £25,000 distributed by local authorities. Guidance can be found here. This has been updated to include other settings such as estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls
  • From the week of 23 March, small firms (up to £45m in turnover) will be able to apply for a loan facility of up to £5m with no interest payable for the first 12 months. This is called the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and it will offers firms both interest and fee-free loans via one of the following financial products:   an overdraft,  a term loan, invoice finance or asset finance. To access these loans, businesses should contact their banks or finance providers directly. You can find the CBI summary of the scheme hereor full details are available from the British Business Bank here
  • From 4 May, small businesses will be able to access a new Bounce Back Loan. The scheme will enable businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000, loan terms will be up to six years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan. You can find out more information You can also find out more in the CBI factsheet here
  • The CBI have also produced a webinar which shows you how to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme here
  • The CBI also produces webinars which shows you how to mitigate the impact of coronavirus. You can sign up here 
  • From early April, all businesses in receipt of Small Business Rates relief and Rural Rates Relief will also be eligible to receive a £10,000 cash grant. These will be distributed through Local Authorities and details can be found here and here. Businesses should anticipate Local Authorities getting in touch with them regarding this in early April. You can also find out more information about the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) in the following guidance. In order to apply to for a Local Authority Grant you need to have your Business Rates Reference Number. If that paperwork has been filed away at a premises that can't be accessed, you can locate your number remotely hereMore details on this fund can be accessed here
  • Small businesses will also be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay paid for sickness absence due to coronavirus, for up to two weeks of an employee’s salary. The rebate mechanism for this is being developed at present, and more information on eligibility can be found here.  Extra advice can be found on the government’s website. There is also a helpline if you are unable to find the information you need on freephone 0800 998 1098. Webchat and email are also available. UK Finance also has a dedicated coronavirus webhub here
  • From 15 July 2020 until 12 January 2021, VAT reduction will be applied on tourism and hospitality related activities reduced from 20% to 5% to support businesses and jobs in the hospitality sector, the reduced (5%) rate of VAT will apply to supplies of food and non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar premises across the UK.  

What support can I receive as a large business?

  • For all businesses, Q1 VAT payments have been deferred with immediate effect there will be no payments between now and the end of June. Businesses will have until April 2021 to pay this back, easing cash flow immediately. Self-assessment payments are also deferred until January 2021. 
  • All businesses that have outstanding tax liabilities as a result of cashflow issues can request extra help through HMRC’s Time to Pay system. A dedicated helpline has been launched on 0800 015 9559 
  • For retail, leisure and hospitality businesses, the Business Rates retail discount in England has been raised to 100% for the 12 months of 2020-21 for all retail properties. Guidance can be found here. This also now includes estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls
  • The Bank of England has a new lending facility for large businesses experiencing severe short-term disruption to cashflows – the Covid Corporate Financing Facility. Companies that need £5m or more will be able to contact their existing bank to request commercial paper under the Bank of England scheme. Initially available for 12 months, the CCFF will provide funding to business by purchasing commercial paper of up to one-year maturity, issued by companies that make a material contribution to economic activity in the UK. This will cover UK incorporated companies, including those with foreign-incorporated parents and with a genuine business in the UK. This scheme is open now and applications can begin being made by contacting banks on the details listed here. More information on this scheme can be found here
  • The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme are available from 20 April. It will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable accredited lenders to provide finance for companies with a turnover of over £45m. More information can be found on the CBI Hub
  • The CBI, banks, UK Finance and the Bank of England are working hard to ensure this scheme provides for mid-tier firms that may not have used commercial paper before
  • From 15 July 2020 until 12 January 2021, VAT reduction will be applied on tourism and hospitality related activities reduced from 20% to 5% to support businesses and jobs in the hospitality sector, the reduced (5%) rate of VAT will apply to supplies of food and non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar premises across the UK. 

How is the Job Retention Scheme going to work?

  • The Job Retention Scheme announced by the Chancellor will be accessible for businesses regardless of size. The CBI have produced a full fact sheet which you can find, here. Employers can claim for furloughed employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means that the employee must have been notified to HMRC through an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee on or before 19 March 2020Employees can be on any type of employment contract, but you can only claim for furloughed employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 28 February 2020. Employers do not need to demonstrate that they were otherwise planning redundancies in order to furlough employees
  • The scheme is operational, as of 20 April and can be accessed, hereYou can find the government’s guidance for employers here. Guidance for employees can be found here. Where the guidance does not clarify outstanding questions, the CBI is following up with the government to issue further clarification in subsequent guidance
  • From 30 June 2020 the JRS will be closed to new entrants, and employers will have until 31 July 2020 to make any claims for the period up to 30 June. 
  • On 12 May the Chancellor announced that the JRS will be extended by four months (until the end of October 2020). There will be no changes to the JRS until the end of July, but changes will be introduced as of the beginning of August.  
  • From 1 July 2020, employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, whilst still being able to claim JRS for their normal hours not worked.  Further guidance on flexible furloughing can be found here 
  • Parents returning from maternity or paternity leave in the coming months will be eligible for furlough, even after the existing cut-off date
  • Employers can claim for the grant for a minimum three-week period. During this time, employees  placed on furlough cannot undertake work – i.e. provide services or generate revenue for or on behalf of their employer. Employees on Statutory Sick Pay cannot be furloughed. Employers can bring employees off furlough and re-furlough them at a later date, providing that the furlough period is not less than three weeks
  • The government will pay up to 80% of furloughed workers’ salary - up to £2,500 per month  
  • Salary is calculated either, for full time employees, based on the actual salary before tax as of 19 March 2020. For employees whose pay varies, the employer can claim for the higher of either: the same month’s earning from the previous year or average monthly earnings for the year. Fees, commission and bonuses should not be included. Employers are not breaching the law if an employees wage falls below National Living Wage (NLW) or National Minimum Wage (NMW)
  • Employers are not required to top up the 20% of the employees wage not covered by the grant, but can chose to do so 
  • Employers can choose to furlough some but not other employees within a business or department, and must go through the relevant selection processes as in line with  employment and equalities laws. An agreement must be reached with employees. 
  • Apprentices can be furloughed and continue to train during this period. This includes the 20% of-the-job requirement for the Apprenticeship Levy. Employers need to pay the appropriate minimum wage for the time they spend training in full
  • As well as employees, the grant can be claimed for any of the following groups, if they are paid via PAYE: office holders (including company directors), salaried members of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), agency workers (including those employed by umbrella companies) and limb (b) workers
  • The CBI has produced a in depth factsheet on the scheme here. You can also listen to the recent CBI webinar on the Job Retention Scheme.

What guidance is available for businesses looking to reopen?

  • The government have published guidelines on how to make workplaces as safe as possible
  • Workspaces should be designed to allow two metre distancing, the staggering of start times, one-way walking systems, or other measures including opening more entrance and exit points, and changing the layout of break rooms
  • Workplaces are being advised to clean more frequently, with hand washing facilities or hand santizer at entry and exit points
  • Further details on working safely during COVID-19 can be found, here

How should businesses support flexible working for employees who can work from home?

  • The government has asked all employees to work from home unless it is impossible for them to do soBusinesses should therefore support flexible working as much as reasonably possible when working remotely
  • Employers should encourage managers and employees with caring responsibilities to speak about any additional flexibility they may need during the day. This could be allowing employees to work reduced hours or flex their hours to work around their caring arrangements
  • Employers should be sympathetic to any distractions that may arise at home, such as children or pets moving around or making noise
  • Employees’ performance and productivity should be reasonably appraised while working at home, and businesses should consider relaxing performance management where appropriate
  • The CIPD have published top tips for managing remote teams, which can be found here

How should businesses support flexible working for employees who cannot work from home?

  • Where it is not possible for individuals to work from home, employers should adapt their practices to observe a distance of at least two metres between individuals wherever possible
  • Employers should consider staggering shifts and processes to enable staff to continue operating both effectively and at a safe distance wherever possible. More information can be found here
  • As well as ensuring the health and safety of staff, these practices can increase opportunities for more flexible working. Depending on the nature of the business, employers are considering the following practices:  
    • Time-banking to allow workers to ‘accrue hours’ to take as time off at a later date, outside of their usual shift pattern
    • Introducing condensed shift patterns whereby employees are able to work their total contracted hours over fewer working days
    • Leveraging annualised hours contracts, by allowing workers to reduce the number of hours they’re working during the pandemic but still work the same number of total hours over the year
    • Splitting teams so that operations run below full capacity at any given time
    • Enabling individuals to take annual leave during this period  

What steps has the government made to allow for more flexible approach from regulators to allow for coronavirus to be better handled by companies?

  • On 26 March the Financial Reporting Council (FRC)Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) provided a joint statement of actions to ease the governance and reporting burden on firms. This includes a set of companies guidance. Find out more here. On the 14 April, the FRC reiterates the responsibilities of both management and auditors which assessing going concern
  • Companies House has encouraged firms to file necessary documents with them online and encouraged firms that may face delays in filing accounts as a result of coronavirus to apply for more time. Companies House will also temporarily pause the strike off process to prevent companies being dissolved
  • Companies House has encouraged firms to file necessary documents with them online here, and encouraged firms that may face delays in filing accounts as a result of coronavirus to apply for more time here. Businesses will be able to apply for a three-month extension for filing their accounts with Companies House to avoid penalties
  • The Intellectual Property Office has said it will support rights applicants and their attorneys affected by coronavirus where possible 
  • Procurement regulations have been relaxed, with more information here
  • The government are relaxing competition regulations to allow retailers to work together more closely to keep shops open, share distribution depots and delivery vans and data on stock levels. Find out more here
  • Other steps to support critical industries will emerge over time, with the government now in active discussions with industry as to how to support particularly impacted sectors. If businesses have ideas for how regulation can be used to ease pressures during the coronavirus outbreak, please contact the CBI policy team at coronavirussupport@cbi.org.uk
  • Further advice on financial requirements and auditing during coronavirus is available from the Financial Reporting Council here
  • The Chartered Governance Institute has published a new guidance note on AGMs and the impact of Covid-19 which is available here.
  • Further advice on financial requirements and auditing during coronavirus is available from the Financial Reporting Council here. 

What is the Job Retention Bonus?

  • The government announced on 8 July that it will introduce a one-off payment of £1,000 to UK employers for every furloughed employee who remains continuously employed through to the end to January 2021. Further details on this will become available in due course.  
  • Government and financial support

    Covering topics including tax payments, support for the self-employed, the Job Retention Scheme and commercial tenancies.

    Find out more
  • Emergency legislation and regulation

    Answering questions including what new policies the government has delayed introducing, and the changes made to ensure essentials can be delivered.

    Find out more
  • Employment

    Covering topics including supporting staff at risk of redundancy, pension schemes, holidays, migrant workers and SSP. 

    Find out more
  • Meetings, travel and events

    Answering your questions about external meetings, travel nationally and internationally, and how to help employees stuck abroad.

    Find out more
  • Cleaning and health in the workplace

    Addressing topics including what to do if staff or visitors become unwell, and workplace cleaning guidance.

    Find out more
  • Supply chain

    Find out more about how other companies are managing disruption to their supply chains.

    Find out more

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CBI factsheets

Always up-to-date with the latest information and insights, our factsheets can help inform your business response.



Case studies

How have other businesses risen to the challenges posed by COVID-19?




External resources

Quick links to the resources you need to coordinate your response