Updated 1 April 2020

Introduction

Developments surrounding COVID-19 are changing by the day. While this situation is ongoing, PIPA will provide guidance from its partners and reliable third-party sources as best it can.

Here, we have collated information on the current situation to help those in the industry find what they need to know as easily as possible. This page will continue to be updated.

Click here to find out more about the business support measures announced by the Government.

Latest Government advice

The latest guidance is that you are only allowed to leave your home for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home).

Funfairs, arcades, bowling alleys soft play centres and similar businesses have been ordered to close. Click here to see the full list.

Please remember, employers have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of their employees. We would urge those operating in the inflatable play industry to think very carefully before offering their services and to follow Government advice.

To read more, click here.

Extension of test dates

We have received several requests for an extension to the expiry dates of PIPA inspection reports.

Unfortunately, whilst the concept sounds simple enough, the process isn’t. PIPA would need to submit a comprehensive report to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for their consideration and there is no guarantee it would be approved.

PIPA is awaiting further details from the HSE before considering whether to submit a request and we will keep this page updated with further news.

Self-employed

Help for the self-employed has been outlined by the government in the form of taxable grants worth 80% of profits, up to £2,500 per month.

It will be available for three months initially and will be open to those who have more than half of their income come from self-employment.

This is expected to be available from the beginning of June and more information on eligibility is here.

Business rates holiday

A business rates holiday will be introduced for the retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Further enquiries should be directed to your local authority. You can check your rates and if you are eligible here.

Grants

Any business receiving small business rate relief (SBRR) will automatically get a £10,000 grant (likely to be early April), irrespective of any other criteria.

Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will receive a £25,000 grant. Further enquiries should be directed to your local authority.

Time to pay

Businesses can arrange to delay paying taxes by contacting HMRC. Click here for more information.

Statutory sick pay

Businesses with fewer than 250 members of staff will be refunded the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay (SSP) per employee. The current rate of SSP is £94.25 per week.

This will apply for a period of eight months. Further legislation means SSP will need to be paid from the first day of sickness absence. If homeworking during self-isolation, full pay will need to be maintained.

Furloughed workers

Employers are being encouraged to keep employees on their payroll rather than lay them off through redundancy.

Therefore, all employers are eligible to contact HMRC to request a grant to cover up to 80% of the wages of employees who are not working but are kept on the payroll, rather than laid off. Employers can top this up to 100% if they wish.

They will also be able to claim the employer's National Insurance contributions and the mandatory 3% employer pension contributions on that wage.

The portal to claim is expected to be running by the end of April and we will bring you more details on making a claim when it is available. In the meantime, there is more information here.

PIPA's lawyers, Chadwick Lawrence, have issued a short video on furloughing which you can watch here.

Companies will need to designate employees as furloughed and notify them of that. Remember, changing an employee’s status is subject to employment law and negotiation.

Employers must send information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal. More details on the portal is expected to be available shortly.

The 80% of wages is capped at £2,500 per employee per month and the measure is backdated to 1 March 2020. It can include anyone laid off after 28 February 2020 and is expected to last for three months initially.

The first grants are expected to be paid before the end of April so this will mean employers funding this support in the short-term.

VAT

If you’re a UK VAT registered business and have a payment due between March 20, 2020 and June 30, 2020, you can defer the payment until a later date or pay it as usual. You must still submit your VAT return.

If you decide to defer your payment you have until March 31, 2021 to pay, but you do not need to tell HMRC that you are deferring payment. However, if you pay by direct debit, make sure you contact your bank to cancel your payment. More information is available here.

HMRC has also set-up a phoneline to support businesses during this time. Call 08000 241222 between 8am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.

FSB

The FSB has published free articles, advice and support on its website.

To read more, click here.

© 2020 PIPA