31 March 16:57
Club Insure Unoccupied Insurance Update
Club Insure have provided us with the following update regrading Clubs which may be unoccupied for the foreseeable future:
In this challenging time, I wanted to write to give you an update around the unoccupancy conditions set out in your policy, that take effect for any property which was previously classed as ‘Occupied’ but is now unoccupied due to the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Under your policy, the Unoccupancy Conditions are as follows:
With the forced closure of many businesses and properties we want to give you guidance as to the stance that your Insurer is taking.
In the Policy wording:
(a) Insurers define “Unoccupied” as being any Building or part of any Building which is empty or not in use by the Insured or any tenant of the Insured for more than 21 consecutive days and
(b) that after 21 days Burst Pipes cover does not operate.
Please be advised however that notwithstanding (a) & (b) above, if the premises do become totally Unoccupied, you must notify us if your premises are going to be closed for business or unoccupied for a period in excess of 21 days. At this point we will need to review the situation with your insurer to determine any changes to your cover following the 21 day period.
Last week, we shared our Dormancy Checklist with you to help you ensure you have checked everything before closing your premises. Please make sure you complete this, which can be found here.
Ongoing Resources & Advice
We are also providing regular updates to make sure you have all the information you need to keep going through this difficult period. You can access all this information here.
As always, our team are here to help with anything you need throughout this challenging period, your dedicated Account Executive will be able to help with any specific questions related to your policy, or for more general queries, you can reach the team on 0344 488 9204.
30 March 11:51
Coronavirus Questions and Answers
Financial Advice Questions and Answers
Q. What assistance is available from the ACC?
A. The ACC is committed to offering financial assistance to any ACC Club which requires it during this difficult period.
We have formulated a variety of assistance packages of which we guarantee at least one will be available to every ACC Club.
If your Club needs financial assistance please email us to so that we can advise the Club directly on the options available. Our email address is email@example.com
Q. What financial assistance is available from the Government?
A. Our Interpretation of the Government Support Measures is below.
The Government has announced large scale and wide ranging assistance packages for businesses affected by Covid-19 and our initial understanding of the packages announced is detailed below.
Job Retention Scheme
Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers who are rehired. Benefit capped at £2,500 per employee per month, backdated to the 1st March the scheme will be open before the end of April. The club would have to find the remaining 20%.
How to apply? Submit information to HMRC about the employees and their earnings through a new online portal. Systems have not yet been set up or the exact details of information required published by H.M.R.C. Where we run the payroll on behalf of the club we will undertake the administration of submitting the claim.
Statutory Sick Pay
We understand that that Clubs will be able to receive a refund of two weeks SSP for any employee who is or has been off work due to the virus. The repayment mechanism is still to be announced.
How to apply? Submit information to HMRC through payroll.
We understand that all Clubs will be eligible for a Business Rates holiday for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Enquires for the provision of Business Rates relief should be directed to the relevant local authority. Guidance for local authorities on the business rates holiday will be published by 20 March.
How to apply? Automatic, the council will not seek to collect rate demands from April.
If the club’s rateable value is between £15K and £51k, the club should receive a cash grant of up to £25,000. Any club which receives small business rates relief, will receive a cash grant of £10,000
How to apply? The rates holiday and cash grants will be administered by local authorities and should be delivered automatically, without clubs needing to claim.
To check rating valuation see link here: http://www.gov.uk/correct-your-business-rates
Business Interruption Loan
The lender receives a guarantee of 80% of the loan amount from the government. No interest will be charged for the first 12 months.
How to apply? From Monday apply to the club’s banking provider. We are seeking urgent clarification but this support may not appear to be available to membership social clubs only sporting clubs such as rugby, golf clubs etc.
Clubs with tax to pay
We understand that Clubs can discuss with HMRC payment holidays to support tax payments which are due.
How to apply? Please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
To assist with cash flow while the job retention scheme is set up clubs will not have to pay any VAT from now until mid-June. The club has until the end of March 2021 to pay the VAT due.
How to apply? The deferral applies automatically and businesses do not need to apply for it. The quarterly VAT returns should still be submitted, VAT refunds will be paid by H.M.R.C. as normal.
Clubs which have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered. Clubs should check their specific policies. Most Clubs are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.
Many of these assistance packages have only recently been announced so we are still awaiting the small print regarding each specific offer. The above is our current understanding of the help which should be available to Clubs over the coming weeks and months. Clubs are still encouraged to contact the ACC if they need financial assistance, particularly if there is a pressing need for financial help.
This is an incredibly difficult time for all Clubs and all suppliers should be sympathetic to assisting Clubs during this period.
Employment Questions and Answers:
Q. As per the Government order we have closed, can we suspend salary payments to our employees unilaterally for the duration of the closure?
A. No. The Club is contracted to provide the agreed payments to employees but the Club can reach a mutual decision with employees to reduce their payments for the period of the Club’s closure. If an agreement cannot be reached then it is likely the Club would have to look at making employees redundant. You can calculate redundancies here: https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-redundancy-pay. In light of Friday’s announcement the choice for Clubs essentially becomes between continue to pay employee their full wages and then receiving back 80% of the cost of this from the Government at the end of April or making employees redundant.
Q. We have been looking at the new Government wage support plan. Could you explain to us what a ‘furloughed’ worker is and how we should pay our employees to be eligible for this support plan?
A. A furloughed worker will be a worker that you continue to pay but does not have anything to do. Essentially, most of your staff are likely to be counted as this since with the Club closed they will not be able to do their jobs.
Our understanding of the scheme is that you will continue to pay the workers their full pay and then, towards the end of April, you will receive 80% of these payments back from the Government. The scheme is backdated to 1st March so Clubs which closed earlier than Friday will still be able to take full advantage of this.
If you need financial support to tide you over until the end of April please contact the ACC.
Q. Can you give us any more information on exactly what we have to do in order to ‘Furlough’ an employee?
A. Whilst this is a new area of law and untested, it is currently thought that the following will apply to furloughed employees.
Any business can apply for the Covid-19 Job retention scheme, and can furlough anyone they wish so long as the employee consents. It would be helpful if Clubs obtain some evidence of consent from the employee who is to be furloughed. Once an employee is furloughed, they will continue to accrue holiday pay as normal and will retain all their rights under employment law.
We do not have any guidance on the rules for furloughing employees or any type of selection procedure. The best practice currently is simply to obtain the consent of the employee.
It is not expected employers will have to prove there is no work for an employee that is furloughed. Again, so long as the employee agrees to it, the employer will qualify for the 80% wage contribution. Employers can top up the other 20% of an employees wage, but are not obliged to do so.
For the case if casual workers or workers who work different hours each week, the correct calculation of pay for a furloughed employee is the previous 12 week pay reference period.
Whilst untested, tying to enforce furlough on employees could be construed as constructive dismissal. It is therefore important that the employee agrees to be furloughed, preferably in writing.
In theory, if a furloughed employee contracts COVID-19, their status can be changed to sick leave, and sick pay would apply with no 80% claim applicable.
Furloughed employees can be asked back to work if their services are required for a period. During this return period an employer cannot claim the 80%, and it is likely that both the employer and employee would have to form a new agreement for the employee to be furloughed again if required. It is unclear if an employee can refuse to return to work if requested once they have been furloughed, we consider it unlikely that an employee could refuse to return.
A furloughed employee cannot do any work for the business whatsoever and an employee able to work from home does not qualify for furlough unless they would otherwise be laid off.
An employee can refuse to be furloughed, and may instead ask for redundancy. Equally, an employer does not have to furlough an employee and can instead seek to make them redundant if they wish to.
Q. We want our employees to take holiday pay during any closure, can we ask them to do this?
A. Yes you can. You do, however need to tell them the amount of holiday you will be asking them to take and give them double of the notice of the holiday time you wish them to take. For example, if they want to close for 5 days, you should tell everyone at least 10 days before.
Q. Our Steward lives on the premises, would they be affected by the Government decision to close the Club.
A. We do not believe their living situation would be impacted but we would have to review the wording of any decision at the time it is made.
Q. Can we reduce the hours of casual and zero hour employees whilst the Club remains open?
A. Yes, assuming you are not contracted with these employees to provide them with set or minimum hours you can reduce their hours if the trading performance of the Club makes such a decision necessary.
Q. Is ACAS providing advice to businesses?
A. Yes, they are constantly updating their advice page here: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus
Q. If we have to close, do we still have to pay employees?
A. (22 March Update, please see above for new information regarding Government wages support. Our original answer is below.)
Currently, if a business closes a trading location but otherwise remains active as an ongoing business entity then employment contracts and pay obligations to employees would continue. This is likely to be the default position for any Club which has to close, notwithstanding that depending on the Club’s insurance policy that some support may be available in this area and that we may see future announcements of support from the Government to businesses in this position.
There will be few businesses in the hospitality and retail sector, such as Clubs and Pubs, which will be able to maintain full payment to employees for the medium or long term in the event of a shutdown. Indeed, for some Clubs maintaining wage payments would prove impossible even in the event of a short period of closure.
If the Club has to close, a decision will need to be taken on how to deal with the existing responsibilities the Club has to its employees. Whilst no Club will wish to see their employees lose out, it is simply not realistic to expect most Clubs to be able to support their existing wage bill if the Club has to be closed.
Therefore, if the Club has closed and cannot support its ongoing wage bill there will essentially be two options available:
The Club could come to agreement with their employees so that they accept a reduced rate of pay during the closure period. This would have to be agreed with the employees but if it can be agreed it could significantly decrease the Club’s outgoings during the closure period whilst still providing some financial support to the Club’s employees.
If an agreement cannot be reached with the Club’s employees over a reduced rate of pay then the Club would likely be forced to make some or all employees redundant. This would not preclude re-hiring the employees as and when the Club re-opened but would come with a specific cost in relation to the redundancy financial packages owed to the employees which have been made redundant. Clubs can calculate what redundancy package an employee be due by using this online calculator – https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-redundancy-pay
The Club can also review its actual legal obligations to employees. A casual employee or an employee on a zero hours contract is unlikely to be legally required to be paid during any period of shutdown whereas an employee guaranteed hours or a salary would be required to be paid unless a decision can be jointly reached to reduce their pay or unless the Club makes them redundant.
The Club does not necessarily have to apply the same policy to all employees although in the event of a mutually agreed reduction of wages it could be construed as fairer to apply the same percentage decease to all employees. The Club can choose to mix and match, however, between mutually agreed decreases in pay and making employees redundant. It may prove to be necessary to mutually agree to reduce the pay of some employees whilst other employees will have to be made redundant.
There will be no easy or simply solutions available for these very difficult decisions but it is likely that decisions which soon have to be taken on the issue of staff wages if the Club is forced to close.
Many Clubs do have employment support also available in their insurance coverage and you may therefore want to alert your insurance company in the event that employees are made redundant.
AGM Questions and Answers
Q. Should we postpone the AGM?
22 March Update – In light of the decision for all Clubs to close, we would suggest that Clubs now postpone any planned AGMs until the Club can reopen. Our original answer is below.
A. Many ACC Clubs have AGMs which take place between March-May. We understand that due to the current exceptional circumstances that Club Committees are discussing if the Club’s AGM should go ahead in the present circumstances.
There is no easy answer regarding this and it will have to be for Club Committees to make the decision on behalf of their respective Clubs. In an ideal world an AGM would take place as this will allow the Members to approve the Club’s Accounts and to elect new Committee Members and Officers. The situation with the Coronavirus does mean that it may not be sensible to proceed with an AGM where there will be a lack of Members in attendance or why Members will not have the proper opportunity to vote for new Committee Members and Officers.
If a Committee believes that an AGM which is scheduled to take place shortly can successfully be held then it may be worth pressing on as the current situation may worsen going forwards. Therefore, a postponed AGM may not be able to be rescheduled for several months. Until the AGM is held we are advising that the currently elected Committee Members and Officers will remain in position and will do so until such time as a postponed AGM can be safely held.
We do, however, appreciate that there are presently compelling reasons for why a Committee may consider that postponing the AGM is the correct decision and that the Committee will wish to make such a decision as soon as possible to avoid inconveniencing Club Members. In the current situation there is no right or wrong answer regarding this issue.
The ACC will support Club Committees in whatever decisions they make regarding going ahead with an AGM or postponing an AGM. At the moment the current guidance is that Clubs can operate as normal so it must be a judgement call for each Club Committee as to whether the AGM can be held as successfully under the present circumstances.
Q. We have decided to postpone the Club’s AGM. What happens to the existing Officers and Committee Members? What happens to the Members who were putting themselves up for election to the Committee?
A. We would suggest that in the event of the Club’s AGM being postponed that the entire process of retiring Officers and Committee Members is delayed too. This means that the current Committee will remain in office until the AGM is rescheduled. Members who have or are intending to put themselves up for election would also have to wait for the AGM to be rescheduled for the elections to take place.
If there are existing Casual Vacancies then the Committee can appoint Members to fill these positions in the usual way. In short, if the AGM is postponed, every corresponding function and activity linked to the AGM should also be postponed.
Q. We have to submit an Annual Return to the FCA. Have they provided any guidance on what they will do if we miss the deadline due to the lockdown?
A. The FCA have published the statement below. Informally we believe they will treat Clubs with a very light touch if they cannot submit their return by the deadline due to the lockdown and current closure of Clubs.
In light of the Covid-19 outbreak, we are aware that some societies are considering a number of options, including postponing scheduled member meetings, such as Annual General Meetings (AGMs). Societies are concerned that this could lead to them breaching their own rules or legislative requirements.
It is for societies to reach their own decision as to whether to go ahead with any planned meeting, taking into account any relevant Government guidance, their own individual circumstances and, where appropriate, legal advice. It would be for societies to take reasonable steps to ensure they meet any obligations they are under as soon as reasonably practicable. Societies will want to consider alternative arrangements such as making use of video conferencing where permitted.
The rules of an individual society govern the relationship between a society and its members. It is important members are afforded the ability to exercise their rights under the rules of a society. Societies may want to take their own advice to consider any risks arising from action taken by members as a result of a breach of their own rules. The FCA has no role to play in determining disputes over society rules.
Where, following Government guidance, the postponement of a general meeting results in a breach of a legislative requirement, it may fall to the FCA to make a decision as registering authority as to what if any action we take. We do not generally consider it to be in the public interest to take action in this context where we can see that a society is taking steps to ensure they meet the legislative obligation as soon as reasonably practicable.
Club Closures Questions and Answers
Q. We have unused beer stock with forthcoming expiry dates, do you have advice on what we can do with it?
A. We have been approached for advice a number of times regarding unused beer stock in Clubs. After speaking to many of you, we have noticed a trend, that many breweries & suppliers are willing to support you with any unused and unopened kegs.
So speak to your brewery or supplier if you are concerned about unopened kegs, as they may be willing to take these back and offer you a credit note for when you’re back up and running.
Alternatively, the Club could donate/give away unwanted supplies to any local organisation that may be able to benefit from such an offer. In theory, the Club could sell alcohol through a take away style service but given the current lockdown instructions we would not suggest that this course of action takes place.
Q. Should we close the Club?
22 March Update – Yes, all Clubs should now be closed in line with Government order. Our original answer is below.
A. Until such time as the Government advice changes to force Clubs to close, this will be have to be a decision to be taken by the Club’s Committee.
Clubs may therefore choose to simply apply a business judgement to this situation. If there are still members and guests wishing to visit the Club then the Committee can keep the Club open to accommodate these persons. We would advise ensuring that there are adequate of supplies of liquid soap available for use by all visitors and employees.
In the event that there is little footfall in the Club, the Committee may decide that it makes financial sense to close the Club until a future date in order to save on financial expenditure at this time.
Q. If Pubs are forced to close, would this apply to Clubs?
A. We believe any enforced closure to Pubs would also apply to Clubs but we would examine the wording of any such order and provide the relevant advice to Clubs if and when such an order is made. Clubs are regulated, most Clubs hold a Club Premises Certificate, which would mean that Clubs could not serve alcohol if the Club Premises Certificates were withdrawn by the Government.
Insurance Questions and Answers
Q. Now that the Government has closed Clubs, will our insurance policy provide financial assistance to us.
A. We understand that for most Clubs their insurance policy will not cover this situation but it is still worth checking with your insurance providers. The information below relates to the previous announcements of Tuesday 17th March that people are being advised to stay away from Pubs and Clubs. We are seeking clarification if the forced closure of Clubs as of the PM’s statement yesterday will affect the insurance situation but we do not expect that it will.
Club Insure has issued this statement:
Following the Prime Ministers brief on Tuesday evening we have had a number of calls and emails regarding the Governments comments, with regards to insurers stepping up for people with pandemic insurance cover.
This has given people and businesses hope that there is some cover available in which to claim for lost business.
Sadly this is not the position for the majority of businesses in the UK today. Pandemic insurance cover is the type of cover offered to the very largest businesses, and not a cover that the majority of clubs will have in place.
This is something no one had seen coming and a risk that was never written for clubs (and other SME businesses). Standard business interruption cover in most cases only kicks in when there is damage to property. A downturn in footfall or reduction in trade isn’t something that this pays out on.
It is essential to understand that the fact that Government has named Covid-19 as notifiable and the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic makes no difference to the cover you have.
Pretty much all sports, social clubs and community centres are in the same boat alongside all other SME businesses. This is why we have been working hard with trade associations both in the leisure and insurance sector to push for help for these businesses.
We will continue to do this on behalf of our customers and will be working to ensure we provide as much guidance to you as possible at this time. If you are looking at temporary closures we are preparing guidance to help ensure your insurance covers remain in force. We will continue to provide updates when we have key information to share with you.
22 March Update: The above statement is largely the same information we have received from most insurance companies we have contacted. The initial information have received indicates that Friday’s announcement will not alter the stance of the insurance providers but we are looking into this to clarify that such a decision is correct.
ACC Services Questions and Answers
Q. Is the ACC still open and still able to assist Clubs?
A. Yes we are still open, but several staff Members are working from home and we would be affected by any London or nationwide lockdown. In light of the updates regarding Coronavirus and the possibility of future interruption to ACC Services we would like Clubs to sign up to our mailing and keep checking our website for updates. This can be accessed here:
The ACC is set up for remote working should it become necessary for our central London office to close or to reduce its hours. Currently we are working as normal and can respond to emails, phone calls, letters and product orders.
If restrictions are placed on the ability of ACC employees to access our offices, then email correspondence will be the best way to contact us; followed by phone calls which should still be diverted to ACC employee mobiles. However, any restrictions on accessing our offices could affect our ability to produce and distribute the monthly magazine, to process product orders and reply to postal correspondence.
We would also suggest that if you are thinking of placing product orders with us that you place these as soon as possible so that they can dispatched prior to any possible disruption to our postal services.
Products can be ordered here: https://www.toryclubs.co.uk/shop/
22 March Update: ACC Operational Update
The ACC continues to operate but due to measures being introduced in London, it is likely that ACC employees will be largely remote working for the foreseeable future. It is therefore uncertain that we will either receive post or that delivers will continue to be made to our Offices. Please therefore email us if any assistance is required. We can still respond to phone calls but there may be a delay in doing so, email will be the fastest way to contact us.
For frequently asked questions on this situation, can we direct all Clubs to our update at 20 March 11:08 and we request that Clubs review these questions and answers before contacting us.
Q. Will the planned ACC AGM go ahead in May?
A. No, we have postponed our AGM until later in the year and will provide Clubs with an updated plan for our AGM when possible. We hope any Clubs which have purchased travel or accommodation for our AGM will be able to obtain a full refund directly from point of purchase.
.29 March 12:41
CMS LAW Now Publishes Job Retention Scheme Q&As
Yesterday the Government published the hotly anticipated details of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the “Scheme”) which it announced on Friday 20 March. Click here to read the Government Guidance, issued by HMRC. In this Law-Now we discuss how the Scheme will operate and highlight some questions that remain.
When will the Scheme be operational?
The Scheme is expected to be up and running “by the end of April” and is stated to be “designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus.” Administrators can also access the Scheme, subject to the various rules that apply in an insolvency context, but the Guidance is silent as to whether the Scheme will apply in all insolvency situations.
What amounts are covered?
Employers can use the online portal to claim for 80% of furloughed workers’ usual monthly “wage costs” up to a cap of £2,500 plus the associated employer’s National Insurance contributions (“NICs”) and minimum auto enrolment employer pension contributions.
Employers must pay furloughed employees at least the lower of 80% of their gross “regular wage” or £2,500 per month (but are not obliged to top this up) – they cannot charge any fee. “Fees, commission and bonuses” are expressly excluded from the definition of wage costs. The amounts paid to furloughed employees will be subject to deductions for income tax and employee’s NICs.
What evidence of cash flow problems is required to access the Scheme, and must employers demonstrate that their financial distress is COVID-19 related?
The HMRC Guidance states that the Scheme “is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus.” There is no reference in the Guidance to employers certifying that they are unable to pay staff costs because of the COVID-19 crisis or provide any form of evidence of their financial distress, or potential redundancies. Therefore, it appears that the Government is taking a broad approach to the eligibility requirements for access to the scheme although currently the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Guidance is still live which states “Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.” (our emphasis). Employers should also consider the potential regulatory implications of accessing the scheme, for example, where there are capital requirements, and the reputational issues where they would not otherwise publicise the fact of the necessity of impending lay-offs.
Which employers can access the Scheme?
The Guidance states that “Any UK organisation with employees can apply, including: businesses, charities, recruitment agencies (agency workers paid through PAYE), and public authorities.”
The expectation is that the Scheme will not be used by many public sector organisations. The section headed “Public Sector Organisations” explains: “Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, we expect employers to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion – and correspondingly not furlough them. This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs.”
What are the timing restrictions for employees and businesses?
The Scheme is open to all UK employers operating PAYE on 28 February 2020 (the “Key Date”) and furloughed employees must have been on the PAYE payroll on the Key Date to qualify. Employees “hired” after the Key Date cannot be furloughed/claimed for under the Scheme.
Employees already on unpaid leave cannot be furloughed unless they were put on unpaid leave after the Key Date.
The Scheme also covers employees who were made redundant since the Key Date if they are re-hired. There is no obligation on an employer to re-hire employees that have been made redundant. Similarly, there is no obligation on an employee to agree to the withdrawal of a redundancy notice.
Are casual employees included?
The Scheme covers not just full and part time employees but also employees on agency contracts and flexible/zero hours contracts.
How do you calculate the amount of pay?
There are different calculation methods depending on whether the employee’s pay varies.
For full time and part time employees with regular hours the Guidance states that employers will receive a grant from HMRC to cover the lower of 80% of an employee’s regular wage or £2,500 per month. It also states that the figure used should be employee’s actual salary before tax, as of 28 February 2020.
Where an employee’s pay varies, the employer can claim for 80% of the higher of (1) the same month’s earnings from the previous year or (2) the average monthly earnings from the 2019-2020 tax year (or, if the employee has been employed for less than a year, their average monthly earnings since they started work). Earnings is a wider term than wages, and the Guidance uses the terms wages, salary and earnings interchangeably, which may cause confusion.
What can a furloughed employee (not) do?
Employees cannot carry out any work for their employer while furloughed, although they can take part in volunteer work or training (as long as it doesn’t generate revenue for the employer). However, if employees are required by their employer to undertake training, they must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage/National Living Wage for the time spent.
Are employees on sick pay or other leave covered?
Employees on sick leave or self-isolating should receive statutory sick pay as a minimum but can be furloughed “after this”.
If employees then need to self-isolate or become unwell once they are on furlough, they are entitled to receive statutory sick pay as a minimum.
For employees on family-friendly leave/pay whilst the Guidance is not entirely clear it appears that where an application for furlough is made in respect of an individual on family leave, the normal rules apply to statutory pay, and any enhanced pay provided is included in the “wage costs” employers can recover.
How do we put furlough in place for our employees? Do they need to agree to this?
Yes, employees need to agree. Employers will need to make any changes to employees’ employment contracts (which is understood to mean to change their status to furloughed and any related changes, for example, to benefits) by agreement unless they have a contractual right to lay off.
To be eligible, employers must write to their employees to confirm they have been furloughed and keep a record of this.
For how long can employees be furloughed?
The minimum length of time an employee can be furloughed for is three weeks. The Scheme is currently operational for at least three months. Claims can be backdated to 1 March 2020.
There is nothing in the Guidance to suggest that employers cannot swap employees in and out of furlough (subject to the minimum three-week furlough period).
Can employees be made redundant at the end of the Scheme?
Yes. When the Government ends the Scheme, employers will have to decide whether furloughed employees can return to their duties or will have to be made redundant.
Rights during furlough
Employees who are furloughed “have the same rights as they did previously” including unfair dismissal and redundancy protection. No specific reference in the Guidance is made to holiday entitlement.
How should furlough payments be treated by the business?
Payments received by businesses under the Scheme must be included as income in the business’s calculation of its taxable profits for Income Tax and Corporation Tax purposes.
Ability to clawback
What is the scope of the Government’s “claw back” ability in relation to fraudulent and erroneous claims under the Scheme referred to in its recent FAQs? The Guidance is silent on this save that it states “HMRC will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of your claim”.
Meaning of “regular wage” for certain sectors
Within the hospitality sector questions remain about whether service charge/tronc payments (where tips are paid into a fund and distributed centrally) will be considered part of an employee’s “regular wage”.
Holidays and benefits
Will employers be required to continue all benefits in kind during furlough? What if that is not practical or they cannot afford to do so? What about share options and employer pension contributions over and above the auto enrolment minimum level, are they still payable? It may be the case that employers will be able to agree a cessation of these benefits above the minimum statutory requirements as part of the furlough arrangements.
Presumably statutory and contractual holiday entitlement continues to accrue during the furlough period, but can employees take/be required to take holiday and if so would that be on full pay?
With regard to redundancies made since the Key Date, what is the mechanism for “re-hiring” employees? We would expect that employers will seek consent to withdraw the redundancy notice and the employee’s agreement to be placed on furlough.
How will the backdating of claims to 1 March 2020 work, will claims run from when employees ceased working, or when their employer stopped paying them?
If the employer has to consult collectively, will it be able to rely on the “special circumstances” defence if it does not have time to conduct a full process?
Can employees take other jobs (as they might during a period of unpaid lay off) when the Government is paying 80% of their wages? This will also depend on whether an employer has an exclusivity clause in the contract of employment. If an employee has two jobs they can continue to work in one role while being furloughed by their other employer from their other role, or they can be placed on furlough by both employers.
How will employers calculate claims for employer’s NICs?
27 March 15:46
Government Publishes Formal Details of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Government has published the first formal details of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which should now enable Clubs to make informed and rapid decisions about furloughing their workers.
The full details are here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme. There are two unanswered points in the latest guidance – date scheme will open and date of first payment but this is anticipated to be 22 April, and accrual of holiday during the furlough period (assumed to be determined by the employer as normal holiday accrual). It is clear that further guidance will be forthcoming and that this will be supplemented, so some unanswered questions remain.
The key points are:
Open to all UK employers of whatever size, provided the company and payroll was in existing on 28 February 2020
Furloughed employees must have been hired or contracted by this date
Furloughed workers can include full, part time, agency and flexible or zero hours contracts
You can use the scheme at any point during the initial 3 month period (note it may be longer) – this means you can make a decision about furloughing some people now and add others to furlough as circumstances change
Who is covered
The scheme is only for employees who are not working – if the employee is working on reduced hours or reduced pay, they are not eligible and will need to be employed normally. Employees with more than one job can be furloughed for each job and the cap applies to each employer.
Employees can take part in volunteer work or training, providing this does not provide services to the company or generate revenue – so if individuals want to undertake on line training or complete apprenticeship training in their own time, but if they are required to do so then you must make sure that they are paid at least NMW/NLW for the time spent in training even if this is more than 80% of salary
Employees on unpaid leave cannot be furloughed unless they were placed on unpaid leave after 28 February
If workers were made redundant since 28 February 2020, they can be rehired and furloughed
You should discuss with your staff about placing them on furlough. This will include making changes to their employment contract by agreement if necessary and where the contract does not provide for furlough. You should record your decisions about who to offer furlough to and write formally to your employees to confirm.
You will be able to submit 1 claim at least every 3 weeks, which is the minimum length an employee can be furloughed for. You should make your claim in accordance with actual payroll amounts at the point at which you run the payroll or in advance of an imminent payroll and you must pay the employee all of the grant you receive for their gross pay.
Work out what to claim
You will make a claim for wage costs through an online portal and receive a grant from HMRC to recover 80% usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus Employer NIC and minimum pension contribution.
An employer can choose to top this up to 100% of normal pay but the employer is not obliged to. If you do top up, you are liable for the employer NIC and pension on this top up element.
For full and part time salaried employees, you use the actual salary before tax as of 28 Feb.
For variable hourly paid staff, you can use either the same month’s earnings from the previous year or average monthly earnings from the 2019/20 tax year, whichever is higher. If the employee has been employed for less than 12 months you can claim an average of their monthly earnings since they started. If an employee only started in February 2020, use a pro rata of earnings to date.
More guidance will be issued in due course about how to calculate claims for employer NIC and pension contributions before the scheme goes live.
27 March 09:19
Industry Group Propel Publishes Opinion Piece by Industry Operator Jonathan Downey
Propel sent us an opinion piece by Jonathan Downey and whilst we are not in complete agreement with all of his conclusions (notably his stance on holiday accrual) we thought Clubs would find his take on the Government’s wages support initiative useful and interesting:
The time has come for people to stop fretting over the fine print in the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and get everyone on furlough. Everyone needs to balance what’s best for their business and people and some difficult decisions will have to be made.
I said yesterday there were too many people complaining about the colour of the lifeboat that has arrived to rescue us. It’s too late for that. It’s time to get everyone in the boat. With few exceptions, everyone should be putting almost all staff on furlough and there should be no redundancies. Anyone who has been made redundant this month should be reinstated and furloughed.
There are some considerable cost and cash flow consequences to consider but I believe I have the answers to these and they are no longer a significant issue (although see my caveat below on details and guidance). I’ve been focusing on four unclear issues and, from previous dealings with government, I can say with some certainty what the likely answers are.
There are far too many owners, chief executives and senior operators resisting or refusing to furlough huge numbers of their people. Either they don’t understand how CJRS works (who does?) and/or think it will cost them too much and they can’t risk it. We need urgent clarification. The big four key points for employers wondering whether to put staff on furlough are:
Employers NI contribution: Does this apply to furloughed payments? Employers NI is 13.8%. If your monthly payroll is £2m, that’s a hard cost of about £275,000. Too much to commit to when we have no cash. My answer: We won’t need to pay this or, if we do, it will be reimbursed.
Employers pension contribution: Does this apply to furloughed payments? This is only 3% but that’s another £60,000 if your monthly payroll is £2m. My answer: We won’t need to pay this or, if we do, it will be reimbursed.
Holiday pay: Does this accrue while on furlough? The obvious answer is “no”. You shouldn’t be accruing holiday while you’re on holiday! But, as a matter of employment law, it does technically accrue. This is likely to represent about a further 10% cost to an employer. My answer: Although this is strictly a statutory entitlement, we’re all going to have to agree with our employees that (i) there’s no accrual of holiday pay and (ii) during furlough your holiday entitlement will reduce to zero because everyone is effectively on paid holiday. You should agree with your employees that they are going on to furlough on this basis.
Effective date: Which employees can you furlough? My view has always been that anyone employed on or before 20 March (date of the chancellor’s announcement of CJRS) is eligible to be furloughed. However, there are many who say CJRS only applies to those employed on or before 28/29 February, but that can’t be what was intended. In announcing CJRS and back-dating it to 1 March, the chancellor was trying to save the jobs of the millions who had lost them in the previous week or two (as well as the millions that were about to be lost). We estimate more than one million jobs were lost in hospitality alone between 10 and 20 March. My answer: It’s not looking good on this at the moment. Despite the clear intention of the scheme, it seem fears over abuse of the system will mean only those people who were employed on or before 28 February will qualify for furlough. That means anyone who joined in March will get nothing. I’m still waiting on further confirmation regarding this.
My feeling is we should be trying to get up to three million hospitality people on furlough this week. We may not be able to do this for the March joiners, which will be sickening, but we should be able to do it for everyone else. We all need to wait until we get the details, though, and the guidance on this should be out today (26 March). Before then, you can work through what the likely cost of all this might be for your business and who might qualify.
From a short but representative survey of some of the big and small owners and operators in our industry, it is clear only 5% to 10% (at best) of our people will remain in active employment. That means 90% to 95% could/should be on furlough, being paid something by the government for three months at least. From now and for the next few days, this is a #3MillionMission to save these jobs and protect these livelihoods, for a short while at least. #GetInTheBoat
Jonathan Downey is co-founder of London Union and is leading the campaign for sector concessions alongside UKHospitality
26 March 12:36
CMS LAW Now Publishes Business Rates Information
A useful summary of the business rates assistance availible to Clubs has been written by CMS Law Now and can be read here: https://www.cms-lawnow.com/ealerts/2020/03/business-rates-covid19?cc_lang=en
26 March 12:18
VAT Direct Debit Update
If any Clubs pay their VAT by Direct Debit, this is a reminder that you will have to cancel your direct debits in order to take advantage of the VAT holiday.
25 March 17:45
Club Insure have published information on how to secure the Club during the period of closure and this information can be located here: https://www.club-insure.co.uk/articles/dormancy-checklist-clubs/
Club Insure have a frequently updated archive of help and information for Clubs and it can be accessed here: https://www.club-insure.co.uk/articles/corona-virus-updates/
25 March 09:45
The BII has published some useful information on the Government Wage Support Scheme and it is available here:
24 March 15:00
YDP Advice For Their Clients, also provides information on the general Furlough/Government Wage Support Rules:
For the attention of YDP Payroll clients
During this rapidly changing situation our staff have been doing what they can to provide clubs with up to date payroll advice. Using the information that’s currently available we are now looking to implement steps that will allow us to apply to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme once it’s in operation.
We therefore ask all YDP Payroll clients to;
• Identify employees you would have had to lay off due to being closed. Provide their names, and the day these layoffs would have occurred (most likely Saturday 21st March).
• Identify the employees they wish to top up pay to 100%, otherwise the grant will be 80%. Bear in mind we believe weekly hours should be calculated from the previous 12 weeks up to the end of February, excluding any bonuses or overtime.
• Identify and inform us of any employees you wish to make redundant.
• Identify and inform us of any employees you wish to remain employed as they continue to carry out work.
With this information we can begin to calculate the pay, and for YDP Payroll clients we believe we will be able to apply to the scheme on your behalf through the portal that is being developed. We therefore also ask you to provide the club’s bank account details (Account Name, Sort Code and Account Number). If you think our payroll team already has this information, please provide it again anyway to confirm the information.
In order to compile this information and be ready to take full advantage of the scheme, we ask you to send us this information as soon as possible.
We will continue to keep you up to date with government advice, but please bear with us while we respond to the new payroll and furlough processes as they continue to develop.
23 March 15:11
Club Insure Advice On Securing The Club
“Now that you are mandated to close by the government, there are certain steps you should take to keep your premises safe whilst they’re not in use.
Before vacating your premises for the closed period, please make sure you have taken the following steps:
• Remove all cash and high risk theft items from the premises (such as wines, spirits, computer equipment, etc).
• Empty cash from fruit machines and leave them open (this way potential thieves will know there is no point in breaking them open).
• Empty cash from any safes, and leave the safes open where possible (again this shows there is no point in breaking into the safe).
• Check all safety systems are turned on and fully functional (eg. Security Alarms, CCTV, Fire Alarms, etc).
• Where possible, isolate any gas supply to reduce the risk of leaks, fire or explosions.
• Where possible, isolate the mains water supply to reduce the risk of burst pipes and flooding.
• Check the premises as regularly as possible to ensure the integrity of its safety and security whilst closed.
• Consider boarding up your premises as this may be required at some point by your insurers.
• If you have a ‘live-on’ steward based at your club and they have now moved off site – you must notify your Account Executive immediately.”
23 March 14:40
YDP Accountants Update
“As a result of the announcements on Friday, we now expect almost all clubs to be closed. Although this will prove extremely challenging for most of you,
the government’s financial support should be available soon and could make all the difference in helping us through the coming weeks. At this early stage information about exactly how these will work is limited, but YDP will continue to provide you with information as and when it becomes clear.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
This will provide support to continue paying part of employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.
The scheme should give clubs 80% of the full amount and it is up to the club whether or not you will top this up with the final 20% based on your cash reserves. You will have to notify your employees (in writing if possible) that their position has been furloughed. We are waiting for further details of exactly how to do this and what any letter should contain.
All clubs should continue to process payrolls as usual. We understand that paying this will become difficult as weeks go on, but we expect that grant funding should be available from your local authority in due course.
HMRC are working to set up a system for reimbursement for the scheme and we will provide more information about this as we get it.
Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
We understand that for VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.
For our bookkeeping clients, please consider carefully before making any tax payments to ensure that they are required. This refers to business rates in particular Business Rates.
Grant funding may be available up to £25,000 for clubs whose property has a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. Clubs with a rateable value of under £15,000 may receive a grant of £10,000. This will be provided through your local authority.
Other likely financial support
-Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs (in the form of a rebate)
-12-month business rates holiday
-The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
For more information visit:
Thanks, and we will continue to keep you updated as more information becomes available.
23 March 14:11
We are still awaiting further details on some of the Government support packages which have been announced. The Government is publishing information directly and this guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
We are expecting more information about the wages support scheme to be announced later today.
21 March 07:53
Government Wage Support – What We Know So Far
Whilst we are still awaiting the small print of this policy, it seems clear that this will apply to employees who are retained by businesses but who cannot currently work. For closed Clubs, it would appear almost certain that this would apply to almost all Club employees.
The policy will pay 80% of the employees wages, up to £2,500 per month. Few Clubs would have employees on a wage exceeding £2,500 per month so the policy will effectively pay 80% of the Club’s wage costs. The Club will still be responsible for paying the remaining 20% of the employee’s wage. We acknowledge that this in itself will still prove difficult for some Clubs but with the financial assistance available from the ACC, in addition to the business rates holiday and the ability to defer the next VAT payment we hope that most Clubs will be able to retain their employees with this policy now in place.
Clubs are still able to make employees redundant if they consider it is necessary but given that for employees with over two years service their is redundancy costs in itself we would suggest that Clubs firstly consider if they can continue to retain employees now that the Government has announced the above assistance.
We understand that the first payment/reimbursement from the Government from this policy will be towards the end of April which may still prove problems for some Clubs’ cash flow positions in the short term. If this applies to your Club please email the ACC and we will try to assist the Club.
20 March 18:13
Prime Minister Announcement on Closures:
The prime minister said premises needed to close by Saturday morning, including cafés, pubs and restaurants, cinemas, gyms, nightclubs and leisure centres.
Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, confirmed:
This announcement applies to the following businesses:
Food & drink venues
Pubs, bars and clubs
Cinemas, theatres, concert and bingo halls
Spas, indoor leisure and gyms
Casinos & betting shops
Museums & galleries
More info on http://gov.uk shortly.
We are frequently updating our website and if there is any update on this closure announcement we will confirm. For now, all Clubs should be preparing to close from midnight tonight.
Further financial assistance also announced by the Government:
From the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak:
For the first time in our history, the British government is going to step in and help pay people’s wages.
Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 a month, that’s above UK median earnings level.
The scheme, open to any employer in the country, will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st and will be open before the end of April for at least 3 months.
There’s no limit on the funding available for the scheme, we will pay to support as many jobs as needed.
Many businesses are hurting now and I can announce that the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will not be interest-free, as previously planned, for 6 months – it will be for twelve months.
Those loans will now be available on Monday. https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/
To help businesses keep people in work, I’m deferring the next quarter of VAT payments.
No business will pay VAT from now to mid June. You’ll have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills. That’s an over £30bn injection to businesses equivalent to 1.5% of GDP
19 March 12:11
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme: for companies with a turnover of up to £41m
Full details of the scheme will be available on Monday 23 March. However, as this is a lender guarantee scheme, Clubs should be taking action now to contact their existing bank if funding will be required. It is not necessary to use your existing bank but it will be easier and quicker to satisfy if you do.
This is provided by the British Business Bank and is to provide a lender to a business with an 80 per cent. guarantee of the facility balance. The list of partner institutions can be found at the link below.
The nature of the facilities available would depend on the lender participating. Finance terms will be 3 months – 10 years for term loans and asset finance, and up to 3 years for RCFs and invoice finance.
The scheme is for loans of up to £5m.
The Government will pay the interest payments for the first six months to assist with cashflow.
The announced eligibility criteria are that the business:
has a turnover of less than £41m;
is in an eligible sector (almost all non-financial sectors other than certain industrial sectors);
sound borrowing proposal but insufficient security;
no state aid above EUR 200,000 in prior two years; and
It is stated that further eligibility criteria will be announced from next week and we will provide an update once these further aspects are known.
18 March 13:16
COVID-19: Government support for businesses
The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.
This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:
a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance
the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees
We will bring forward legislation to allow small- and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:
this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to those staying at home comes into force
the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible
Support for businesses that pay business rates
We will introduce a business rates retail holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.
Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.
A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority. Guidance for local authorities on the business rates holiday will be published by 20 March
Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates
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.
If your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your local authority – you do not need to apply.
Funding for the scheme will be provided to local authorities by government in early April. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.
Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch next week to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. 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, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.
Support for businesses paying tax
All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim.
Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.
18 March 10:56:
CMS Law Now Published Advice on Government Assistance Available
COVID-19: UK Government’s tax and financial relief measures.
The focus of the UK Government’s 2020 Budget last week was providing support to businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak. At the time, the £12 billion COVID-19 relief package announced seemed ground-breaking, but within a week it seems like small change in the face of the challenges businesses are dealing with up and down the country.
The majority of the measures introduced last week were aimed at supporting small and medium sized businesses. The UK Government’s new £330billion fiscal package announced on 17 March 2020 by the Chancellor now also includes support for large businesses.
Neither HMRC nor the UK Government has confirmed whether there will be any relaxation on tax filing deadlines. For the time being, businesses should try to meet their tax compliance obligations to avoid penalties being assessed by HMRC.
HMRC has verbally confirmed to CMS that in relation to PAYE due to be paid for month 11 (i.e. March 2020) this can be deferred for two months, subject to specific agreement with HMRC.
The HMRC adviser CMS spoke to said there is no guidance available for month 12 (i.e. April 2020).
Reimbursement of statutory sick pay
The UK Government announced that it would reimburse employers who have less than 250 employees (as of 28 February 2020) for up to two weeks statutory sick pay for each employee who is absent due to self-isolation as a result of COVID-19.
HMRC has verbally confirmed to CMS that they are expecting businesses to account to HMRC for income tax and employee and employer’s national insurance contributions on statutory sick pay in the usual way. The reimbursement that employers can claim will be of the net amount paid to employees. Businesses will therefore bear the tax cost of paying statutory sick pay.
HMRC has verbally confirmed to CMS that businesses will need to keep records to support their reimbursement claims but “fit notes” will not be required evidence.
We are waiting for the UK Government to publish its plan for how businesses will claim reimbursement and how long such claims will take to be processed.
Business rates relief
The Chancellor announced on 17 March that the business rates holiday is now extended to all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector for the next 12 months irrespective of rateable value.
The business rates holiday for any business with retail property with a rateable value of less than £51,000 for the 2020/21 period is now:
extended to the leisure and hospitality sector
increased from 50% to 100% for the next 12 months and
complemented with an up to £25,000 cash grant for these smaller businesses.
“Time to Pay”
This is a scheme under which HMRC agrees specific tax payment arrangements with taxpayers on a case-by-case basis. Ordinarily this scheme is only available to those in significant financial distress. At Budget 2020, the Chancellor stated that businesses may be able to access this scheme to help them manage the cash flow difficulties that COVID-19 may impose.
HMRC has not indicated the extent to which a business would need to be affected by COVID-19 to qualify for a “Time to Pay” arrangement. However, we consider the Chancellor’s announcement that an additional 2,000 experienced HMRC call handlers will be available to support taxpayers during COVID-19 shows willingness on HMRC’s part to assist taxpayers in these challenging times.
Further relief measures
Government Debt Support. UK Government backed and guaranteed loans of £330bn will be made available on attractive terms for small and large business. Any business can access these facilities where it needs cash for suppliers, fixed costs or employee costs etc. The Chancellor has indicated the UK Government is willing to increase this capacity should there be demand. Both of the following schemes are expected to be up and running by next week:
A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable businesses with a turnover of no more than £41 million to apply for a loan of (now) up to £5 million, with the UK Government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees.
For larger firms a new lending facility has been agreed with the governor of the Bank of England, to be provided through low cost easily accessible commercial paper.
The Chancellor has said his focus is on providing employment support to businesses by providing liquidity and assisting with funding fixed costs through the provision of debt. Understandably there will be concerns in relation to the terms of these new UK Government debt facilities, particularly in respect of the term, interest rates and repayment terms. There will also be practical concerns of whether businesses can get these facilities in place before they have to make difficult decisions.
Local Authority cash grant.
At Budget 2020 a £3,000 cash grant was announced for 700,000 of the smallest businesses, delivered by Local Authorities. On 17 March the Chancellor announced increasing the quantum of this to £10,000.
The Chancellor also announced:
ongoing discussions with business leaders in sectors most impacted, such as hospitality, leisure and retail about further relief measures
the current UK Government action and advice is sufficient ground for those businesses that have a policy of insurance for pandemic to make claims under those policies
further measures are expected in the coming days following discussions with, eg trade unions and business groups, including new forms of employment support.
18 March 10:19
Advice From Welsh Accountants R H Jeffs & Rowe:
Clubs are facing an unprecedented range of problems and we have been asked by many of club clients for guidance in respect of the problems posed by Covid-19.
Should we close the club
Clubs will be hard hit, the expectations are that all pubs and clubs will be forced to close in the next week or two. The general advice is to not close the club unless you are specifically told to do so by a competent authority. Officers and committee should instead, focus on developing and testing a business continuity plan:
There will be significant work for the Secretary to undertake during this difficult period:
• Reduce stocking levels which are probably high with unsold beer from the postponed Scotland match. Critically review the brewery order, do not over-order perishables
• Reduce and limit opening hours and days if needed, and plan so you are aware how reduced opening hours may impact your club’s finances.
• Be prepared for altering your club’s operations. You may need to change or close areas of your club such as the hall.
• Sky and BT have announced temporary suspension of payments, line cleaning and other service contracts may have to be reviewed. For example, a number of clubs have already contacted the Performing Rights Society looking for reduced payments.
• If you have to close the club check it is secure and unwanted heating and lighting turned off.
• The aim should be to reduce expenditure to ensure the club is in a healthy financial position when things return to normal.
• Review employment contacts for when it becomes time to reduce staffing levels or close. The required action will vary from club to club, for example, staff on fixed salaries will have to be treated differently to those on zero-hour contracts.
• Be aware of employee rights. If you ask employees to stay at home, you probably have to pay them. If an employee is advised to self-isolate, employees eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) are entitled to payment from day one. If a staff member is not ill but doesn’t want to come into work, you could consider allowing them unpaid leave but you are under no legal obligation to do so.
• Redundancy – the closure of the club is unlikely to be for the long term so that the requirement to pay redundancy is unlikely.
• Reduce staffing costs especially payments for overtime.
• Continue to submit timesheets and run payroll. If staff are ill or self-isolating make sure you tell Gareth and Mandy as SSP can be reclaimed.
HMRC taxes, VAT and payroll
The administration of the club will still have to continue, VAT and weekly payroll still require processing. HMRC have published helplines for those who have difficulty with paying their tax due to COVID-19. The number of the helpline is 0800 0159 559, the helpline can assist with:
• setting up a time to pay arrangement,
• suspending debt collection proceedings, and
• cancelling late payment penalties and (unusually) interest.
Is the club insured for coronavirus?
It depends on your policy, speak to your insurance broker for advice. Some insurance policies will cover you for Business Interruption or Non-Damage Denial of Access for Notifiable Diseases. However, there may be specifications and limitations stated in your policy. Check the Terms and Conditions of your policy.
Events are moving quickly and a range of significant measure were announced yesterday by the UK Government: –
• Grants for small and medium sized pubs, restaurants and theatres.
• Further help with rates
• Cash payments for the smallest business who do not pay rates.
• Government guaranteed loans to help salaries payment to suppliers and stock.
Further details are required on these Government support measures before we can assist the club further.
Sick pay from day one for those affected by coronavirus
Anyone who needs to self-isolate because of coronavirus and are eligible for SSP will be paid from the first day they are off work. Employees eligible for SSP must have averaged £118 per week (£120 from the 5th April) or over in the last eight weeks. For businesses with fewer than 250 employees the cost of providing SSP to any employee off work due to coronavirus will be refunded by the government for up to 14 days in full. The rate of payment of SSP is £94.25 per week (£95.85 from the 6th April).
From April 2020, the club will be eligible for the increased £4,000 employment allowance.
Rates are devolved to the Welsh Assembly Government who confirmed yesterday they will follow the UK government lead so that it is unlikely any rates will be payable by the club in the coming twelve months.
R H Jeffs & Rowe
First and foremost, our plan ensures the health and safety of our employees, so we can continue to deliver and support the services we provide. We have made changes to our operations but our aim is business as usual. Please continue to forward timesheets, VAT details and other information to us as normal.
All employees in our office who can perform their jobs remotely will be work from home until at least 31st March 2020. As a precaution and to minimise the risk of spreading the virus we’ve request visitors and guests do not visit staff at our offices. Although communications to our office by email, phone or post, will continued to be monitored, we can access emails remotely and you may find this is the best method of contacting us.
Tel: 01443 402116; Web: www.accountancywales.com
17 March 15:54
Update from Accountants YDP:
Coronavirus and Clubs
As you will be aware, the Government have advised that it is time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to avoid unnecessary visits to pubs, clubs and other recreational venues. This Government advice effects the whole population but particularly applies to persons over 70 and those with underlying health issues. In all probability this advice will stay in place for 12 to 14 weeks.
How will this affect our clients? YDP has put in place a raft of measures to ensure that we can continue to provide our normal service for book-keeping, payroll and stock taking and audits. We are able to achieve this by managing working hours, minimising staff present at the office and implementing working from home wherever possible.
We must ensure the audit programme will continue in order to comply with FCA regulations but it may be necessary to postpone some AGMs. In those circumstances we shall ensure that signed accounts, along with the FCA Return, are made on time. The AGM may be held at a later date when conditions allow.
The main problem for many clubs will be the need to maintain an income, bearing in mind the Government advice. Committees will be faced with difficult decisions. We would recommend reviewing your insurance policy before taking action as some clubs will have ‘Loss Of Business’ cover. This may only apply if the Government orders clubs to close. It may not apply if you close voluntarily. It might be advisable to keep the club open for a short time each day, ticking over at a low level and with a skeleton staff, but reducing all unnecessary expenditure on non-essential items such as entertainment.
You can find more information, including Small Businesses Interruption Loans here:
This is likely to be a difficult time for all of us and especially for those in the hospitality industry. Please do not hesitate to call us at YDP if you need advice on how to react in the face of the upheaval. Our staff are here for you and will remain in contact.
YDP Limited – 01933 358080
17 March 12:24
Employment advice, what happens if the Club needs to temporarily close?
ACAS has provided the following advice:
If the employer needs to close the workplace
An employer may want to plan in case they need to close the workplace temporarily.
This might be a difficult time for both employers and staff. It’s a good idea to make sure staff have a way to communicate with the employer and other people they work with.
Working from home
Where work can be done at home, the employer could:
ask staff who have work laptops or mobile phones to take them home so they can carry on working
arrange paperwork tasks that can be done at home for staff who do not work on computers
If an employer and employee agree to working from home, the employee should get their usual pay.
Lay-offs and short-time working
In some situations, an employer might need to close down their business for a short time, or ask staff to reduce their contracted hours. Unless it says in the contract or is agreed otherwise, they still need to pay their employees for this time.
If the employer thinks they’ll need to do this, it’s important to talk with staff as early as possible and throughout the closure.
Find out more about lay-offs and short-time working.
Employers have the right to tell employees and workers when to take holiday if they need to. For example, they can decide to shut for a week and everyone has to use their holiday entitlement.
If the employer does decide to do this, they must tell staff at least twice as many days before as the amount of days they need people to take.
For example, if they want to close for 5 days, they should tell everyone at least 10 days before.
This could affect holiday staff have already booked or planned. So employers should:
explain clearly why they need to close
try and resolve anyone’s worries about how it will affect their holiday entitlement or plans
More information is available here: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus
ACC Additional Employee Information
The Club can also discuss with employees if they would be willing to accept a temporary in reduction of pay during a shutdown to assist the Club’s financial situation and, in doing so, assist the Club in being in a position to re-open at the appropriate time.
The Committee can consider the type of contract that an employee is one and whether reductions in hours could be made to save funds but ensure that an employee still has some pay being received. The type of contract that an employee is on will likely determine if a reduction or pay or hours is possible. Even if the contract suggests that it may not be possible, an employee may be willing to agree to a temporary change in hours or pay in order to ensure that the Club does not have to consider more drastic options such as redundancies.
Whilst not ideal, in the event of what could be a prolonged shutdown the Club may have to consider making employees redundant. ACAS publishes guidance on redundancies here: https://www.acas.org.uk/manage-staff-redundancies
Clearly staff wages will be the biggest cost to the Club during any shutdown and, simply being realistic, it is likely that some Clubs will have to make difficult decisions to avoid running out of cash flow during any such shutdown. Any decision to reduce pay, hours or make an employee redundant is a difficult and painful decision for a Club Committee to make but such decisions may have to be made in order to ensure that the Club is able to re-open in the future.
16 March 16:15
Useful links for Clubs:
Employment Guidance: https://bhayanilaw.co.uk/coronavirus-latest-update-for-employers/
Insurance ‘notifiable disease’ update: https://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/Article/2020/03/06/Pubs-can-seek-compensation-if-affected-by-coronavirus
Tax Helpline, including possible instalment/deferment options: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19
British Institute of Innkeepers Advice Archive: https://www.bii.org/news/coronavirus-advice/
16 March 13:24
Coronavirus update, including important insurance policy information and business disruption advice
What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus. Typical symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing and a fever, though this can progress to pneumonia. The virus is responsible for thousands of deaths so far globally and is now spreading quickly through the UK. The highly contagious virus enters through the nose and mouth, so can be easily spread through human-to-human transmission. This includes coughing, sneezing or human contact such as touching or shaking hands. It is also thought to be spread by touching objects/surfaces with the virus and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes without washing your hands. Coronavirus has an incubation period of up to 14 days, which has allowed the virus to spread rapidly across the world. To date, almost 100,000 people have been infected with the disease.
People who have been in close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, or people with suspected coronavirus, are being advised to stay indoors and call 111. Staying isolated for two weeks will help to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
How could Coronavirus impact my business?
Losses businesses are likely to experience include:
– Loss of income
– Additional expenses
– Increased staffing costs
– Cost of decontamination and sanitising
The spread of Coronavirus could lead to the cancellation of specific events. People may be unable to travel to venues, or there may even be an official recommendation to stop large events / conferences or hotel stays.
Businesses that are likely to encounter those infected with Coronavirus could also be impacted. This is particularly relevant to hotels, conference venues, tourist hot spots and various care facilities.
Businesses may be forced to close if employees are struck down with the virus or advised to self-isolate, and business supply chains could also be affected. If a business is relying on supplies or stock from China, it could result in stock shortages and potentially loss of revenue. In this eventuality, it is advised to begin measuring and documenting loss as soon as possible.
Most Business Interruption policies will carry an ‘unspecified customers’ extension, whereby any loss of gross profit incurred as a result of ‘damage’ occurring at their customer’s premises will be covered. However, it’s unlikely that an outbreak of coronavirus would constitute ‘damage’ as defined in the policy. As such, the loss would effectively be uninsured.
Will my insurance cover protect me if my business is affected by Coronavirus?
Your standard insurance policy may not cover you for loss of income or revenue due to Coronavirus. However, some policies may have a Notifiable or Communicable Disease extension which will extend your Business Interruption cover to apply to instances of Notifiable Human Infectious or Contagious Disease.
Coronavirus is now classed as a Notifiable Disease in England, Scotland and Wales, and therefore business losses caused by the virus may be covered under some insurance policies. It is important to check the Terms & Conditions of your policy with your broker.
What happens if I can’t access my business?
If a government official or legal authority closes or evacuates your premises, you may be able to make a Business Interruption claim as you have been denied access to your business.
All policies should be carefully reviewed as each individual Policy Wording will vary. For example, some may include a geographic limit of the disease occurrence or require an “Access Prevention Order” to be issued.
Will my insurance cover be enough?
If there is the cover in your policy it will be limited to the amount stated in your individual Policy Wording. Payout limits for the extension are unlikely to fully protect your business. Policies are likely to be subject to time and indemnity limits too.
Businesses are advised to focus on risk mitigation, business continuity planning and protection. Develop and test action plans before the coronavirus directly impacts your business.
For example, do you have the right equipment, security and infrastructure in place for staff to be able to work remotely? Innovate and find practical solutions in advance so that, if coronavirus does impact your business, you are able to minimise its impact.
The impact on employees
If an employee is suspected to have coronavirus, they should be isolated or sent home whilst waiting for advice from NHS 111. Those who have returned from travelling overseas or have been in contact with someone with coronavirus should self-isolate. Where possible, employees should be given the option to work remotely and have a clear policy and declaration form in place to minimise the likelihood of accident claims. If this isn’t an option, employers must use their own discretion when it comes to requiring medical evidence for a period of absence.
It is considered good practice to offer sick pay for employees advised to self-isolate but, where businesses don’t offer contractual sick leave, those required to self-isolate will be entitled to statutory sick pay from day one.
Businesses are not advised to close the workplace if someone with confirmed coronavirus has entered the premises. Instead, identify who has been in contact with the individual and work with the PHE local Health Protection Team to decide if any precautions need to be taken.
You must take reasonable care to ensure the safety or visitors and employees, which includes ensuring your premises is sterilised and decontaminated if someone with confirmed coronavirus has entered the building.
Where insurance cover is likely to be available, there will likely have to be an actual event (such as a manifestation of coronavirus). Our advice is not to voluntarily close your business unless you are strictly forced to do so by a competent authority, as any other circumstance will not suffice as a policy trigger.
At present, existing insurance policies are unlikely to cover losses associated with the impact of COVID-19. The disease is not currently identified in England as a notifiable disease and therefore would not be covered in the relevant extension where this is applied to a policy. This status is anticipated to change imminently however and following a change in Scotland. Once this re-definition has occurred companies are advised to contact their insurers to review the relevant wording of their policy to ensure that COVID-19 is captured and even where a notifiable disease extension is already included.
It should be noted that the notifiable disease extension only covers discrete events or occasions such as a beer festival and is unlikely to be relevant for long term closure of a venue. However, the Government has announced as part of their COVID-19 action plan that concessions will be made by tax officials if businesses struggle to pay tax bills and separately Government is also looking at additional support measures for affected businesses.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself, your staff and your business is to create and test a Business Continuity Plan. This will help minimise impact should coronavirus affect your business. Decide how your business will respond to various scenarios, and how you plan to communicate with and coordinate staff, suppliers and customers.
To get more information on your specific Club Insurance Policy please contact your insurers directly.
Keep up to date with the latest news – The Coronavirus outbreak is still a developing situation. We will continue to update Clubs with any updates and please sign up to our newsletter here: https://www.toryclubs.co.uk/#subscribe
11 March 11.58
We are monitoring the Coronavirus situation. Currently we are advising Clubs to ensure that they practice good hygiene and to enforce common sense regarding washing hands. This will assist in keeping the Club as clean as possible and to prevent the possibility of transfer of the virus. There is no reason for Members to stop using the Club but precautionary measures involving good hygiene are important for everyone to adopt.
If Clubs have supplies of liquid soap or antibacterial gel, these can be left on the bar or in common areas of the Club for Members to use. It is important to ensure that there is liquid soap available in all of the Club’s toilet areas and that Club employees are regularly washing their hands and cleaning the bar and related food production areas.
We do not believe that the enforced closure of Clubs and Pubs is a probable outcome at this stage but we must all be mindful to changes in the current situation and to keep abreast of any future developments. As always, financial aid packages are available from the ACC to our Member Clubs. If any Club is having financial difficulties please let us know and we will try to assist.
If you want to place information on the Club’s Notice Board, you can use the following wording or adapt it as you see fit:
The Club is monitoring the UK government’s information and advice on Coronavirus. Up-to-date information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public. This website is updated regularly.
The Club requests that Members who have recently returned from any of the high-risk areas listed, follow UK government advice and that if they are in any doubt, they do not visit the Club for at least 14 days after their return to UK. Members are also asked to advise the Club if they are diagnosed as having contracted Coronavirus, or have been in close proximity to someone who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus and have recently visited the Clubhouse.
The Club is now monitoring the travel arrangements of all staff and we will ensure that appropriate precautions are taken, in order to attempt to limit the spread of Coronavirus. All staff have been briefed on how best to prevent the virus from spreading ~ information about which can be found at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
We would ask that the Membership also practice safe hygiene measures when visiting the Clubhouse, by washing their hands regularly, using the Club’s hand sanitizers, coughing and sneezing into tissues and immediately discarding them in the bins provided.
Whilst the UK battles this virus, everyone simple has to be more careful than usual with hygiene and to continue to monitor health advice provided by the appropriate authorities. There is, however, no current guidelines to suggest that people without symptoms should self-isolate or that normal social activities cannot continue to be undertaken. Currently the vast majority of sporting, cultural and entertainment events are taking place as usual and this is aided by everyone focusing on good hygiene to prevent further spread of the virus. The UK is open for business and social environments such as Clubs and Pubs are a key aspect of this. It is important to be vigilant but to continue to react proportionately to current and future developments.
We hope this information helps; please let us know if we can be of any further assistance. We shall continue to monitor the situation and will provide updated advice as and when appropriate.