COVID-19 Fact Sheet: What your business needs to know

23 March 2020


With months of uncertainty ahead, Government have announced some steps they will take to support business as they tackle the pressures of COVID-19.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

  • The Scheme has opened today (Monday 23 March) to applicants.
  • Government plan to introduce a “Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme” which is to be delivered by the British Business Bank
  • This scheme will help any viable business with a turnover of up to £45m to access government-backed finance of up to £5m.
  • The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs.
  • The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee.
  • Interest payments and any lender-levied fees for businesses will be covered by the government for an initial period of up to 12 months.

Sick Pay

SSP will be payable to those taken ill with COVID-19 and those who are unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate.

  • SSP for COVID-19 related absence will be payable from day 1 of absence
  • The 111 helpline will be able to issue an alternative to a fit note to those required to self-isolate but employers need to use discretion whilst pressure on the system is at extreme levels

Government will bring forward legislation to allow small/medium sized businesses and employers to reclaims Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for any absence due to COVID-19. This will include:

  • Employers with less than 250 employees will be eligible (determined by the number of employees at 28 February 2020) for refund of up to 2 weeks SSP paid per employee effected by COVID-19.
  • Employees will not be required to provide a fit note, but employers will be required to keep a record of absence.

Business Rates

  • A business rates holiday will be introduced for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors for the 2020/21 tax year
  • Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value of under £51k will qualify for a grant of £25,000
  • The government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR).
    • This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.
    • Small businesses will be contacted by their local authority if eligible for SBRR.

Business Tax

  • HMRC are offering the opportunity for businesses and self-employed workers to discuss their difficulties in paying tax during this time.
  • Some businesses and self-employed may be eligible to receive support through HMRC’s Time to Pay service.
  • HMRC state this will be judged on a case-by-case basis and will be tailored to individual’s needs.
  • Call HMRC’s helpline 0800 0159 559 to discuss if you are concerned.


  • Businesses are encouraged to check their insurance policies and contact their providers to see if they have cover in event of a pandemic or government-ordered closure.
  • Government are aware that many businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.


  1. Stay up to date with the latest guidance. 

The situation is obviously changing quickly, so employers should ensure they stay up to date with the latest government guidance and advice from public health agencies.See below for the list of useful contacts and sign up to receive email updates from the Government.

  1. Have a contingency plan in place

It would be sensible to review your business continuity plan to ensure you know what to do if the threat level increases. Consider what you can do in advance to facilitate home working and to maintain key trading functions.

Be creative and flexible when implementing the plan especially in light of the school closures effective from Friday 20 March 2020.

  1. Health, Safety and Wellbeing
    Employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees and non-employees (contractors, members of the public, etc.) so far as is reasonably practicable. This would include taking reasonable steps to control the spread of the coronavirus at sites under the control of the employer.

Make sure there are facilities to wash hands with hot water and soap and encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly.   Provide hand sanitiser and tissues for staff and encourage them to use them.

Public Health England are recommending that you wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds each time with soap and water or hand sanitiser, especially on the following occasions when you:

  • Get home or into work
  • Blow your nose, sneeze or cough
  • Eat or handle food

Remember – it is important to keep in regular contact with your homeworkers.

Establish how they wish to communicate and consider using video conferencing such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc.

Check in with staff regularly, do not exclude individuals, show you care!

  1. Vulnerable Staff (Employees aged over 70, employees with underlying health conditions and pregnant employees)

Follow the advice given to other employees.In addition, effective 19 March 2020, this group is strongly advised to work from home.Request that employees let you know if they are in one of the categories of vulnerable people.

We advise you speak to those employees and try and accommodate any request to work from home or agree they can take holiday, etc.

They are not at this time entitled to Statutory Sick Pay unless they are told to self-isolate or are off sick.However, we await further guidance from the Government, so watch this space.

  1. Pregnant – Management of H&S Work Regulations

You need to carry out a risk assessment for any pregnant employees to establish if there are any potential risks to the pregnant employee or their unborn child.If there are risks which cannot be mitigated, then you would need to suspend the employee from work and pay them full pay.

  1. Consultation with staff regarding any proposed changes to their working arrangements
  • Communication is key– consult with staff, explain what is happening and ask for ideas or suggestions to avoid a potential redundancy situation.
  • Check contracts of employment for lay off or short time working clauses.
  • If the contract does not have a lay off clause you should continue to pay full remuneration
    • If you cannot pay full remuneration you must pay at least the Guaranteed Pay (statutory lay off pay) of a maximum of £29 per day for 5 days in any 3 month period.
  • If you need to lay off staff, consider if you need to give a defined consultation period;
    • Individual consultation can take place if you have less than 20 employees without any defined consultation period.
    • Collective consultation needs to take place when you employ 20 or more employees.  30 days’ consultation and 45 days’ when you employ 100 or more employees.  Employees must be paid to the end of the consultation period as a minimum
  • Employment will continue unless the employee decides to apply for redundancy.  They are entitled to do this if they have been laid off, or on short-time working, and received less than half a week’s pay for 4 or more weeks in a row or 6 or more weeks in a 13-week period.
    • Employees claiming redundancy will be entitled to statutory redundancy pay
  1. Emergency Dependent Leave

If an employee has to take time off to care for a dependent who is sick, for an emergency or when the schools close then they have a statutory right to unpaid time off.

If you are concerned about the effects of COVID-19 on your business practices, get in touch today to speak to an advisor on 0121 445 6178 or email

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COVID-19: temporary, timely and targeted

This update is relevant at the time of publication but subsequently, please check official government guidance for up to date information