Employees working from home may be able to claim tax relief for certain home-related bills they pay that are related to their work.
Employers may reimburse employees for the additional household expenses incurred through regularly working at home. The relief covers expenses such as business telephone calls or heating and lighting costs for the room in which you are working. Expenses that are both for private and business use (such as broadband) cannot be claimed. Employees may also be able to claim tax relief on equipment they have bought, such as a laptop, chair or mobile phone.
Employers can pay up to £6 per week (or £26 a month for employees paid monthly) to cover an employee’s additional costs if they have to work from home. Employees do not need to keep any specific records if they receive this fixed amount.
If the expenses or allowances are not paid by the employer, then the employee can claim tax relief directly from HMRC. Employees will get tax relief based on their highest tax rate. For example, if they pay the 20% basic rate of tax and claim tax relief on £6 a week, they will get £1.20 per week in tax relief (20% of £6). Employees can claim more than the quoted amount but will need to provide evidence to HMRC. HMRC will accept backdated claims for up to 4 years.
These tax reliefs are available to anyone who has been asked to work from home on a regular basis, either for all or part of the week including working from home because of coronavirus.
One of the measures announced by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak in his recent Summer Statement was the introduction of the Job Retention Bonus. This bonus is designed to encourage employers to bring back furloughed workers as the benefits of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme start to taper before the scheme ends on 31 October 2020. The new Job Retention Bonus will provide a £1,000 payment to employers that bring back an employee that was furloughed, and continuously employ them for at least 3 months after the furlough scheme ends. Employees must be seen to be gainfully employed during this period and be paid at least £520 a month, on average, from November 2020 to January 2021. The £1,000 government bonus will be payable for every employee retained under the stated terms. There are currently estimated to be over 9 million employees who have been furloughed. If all these staff return to work and meet the conditions, then more than £9 billion in bonus payments will be due. The bonus is the same regardless of what an employee earns so the take up of the bonus is likely to be skewed more towards lower paid employees where the £1,000 makes up a larger percentage of their salary. The government has said that the payments will be made from February 2021. Further details about the Job Retention Bonus scheme are due to be published by the end of July.
Acas has published a process map for employers who are having to consider making redundancies due to coronavirus. The interactive tool has been designed to help employers better understand redundancy processes, required steps and good practice when engaging with employees. It also provides details of options and alternatives to making redundancies and prompts employers to consider further support they can provide to their staff. The tool simply provides an overview of the steps and processes involved, but it does link to more detailed Acas guidance and information on managing staff redundancies. As part of ensuring a redundancy process is both fair and complies with statutory requirements, employers must: – be confident there is a genuine redundancy situation, i.e. there is an actual or intended closure of the business, there is an actual or intended closure of the business at a particular workplace, or the requirements of the business for employees to carry out work of a particular kind have ceased or diminished or are expected to cease or diminish undertake meaningful individual consultation in all cases, which will involve holding a series of individual meetings with affected employees, the purposes of which are for the employer to explain their proposals and the reasons for them and to give staff a reasonable opportunity to put forward their own suggestions, ask questions and generally have their say before any final decisions on redundancy are taken ; – undertake statutory collective consultation with appropriate representatives, i.e. trade union or elected employee representatives, where the proposal is to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees at one establishment within a period of 90 days or less – and the Secretary of State will also need to be notified, according to prescribed timescales, on form HR1 ; – fairly select those employees who are to be made redundant – this will include identifying the relevant selection pool and the proposed objective and non-discriminatory selection criteria and then applying a fair scoring system to those criteria in order to select who is to provisionally be made redundant ; – give due consideration to suitable alternative employment and other alternatives to compulsory redundancy – employers need to carefully focus on the various ways in which redundancy could be avoided ; – not issue any redundancy notices until the consultation process (both individual and, where applicable, collective) is complete ; – preferably give a right of appeal against any redundancy decision.
Employers must also ensure that statutory minimum notice and statutory redundancy payment obligations are met on redundancy, together with any enhanced contractual obligations.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) is a Crown non-departmental public body of the Government of the United Kingdom. Its purpose is to improve organisations and working life through the promotion and facilitation of strong industrial relations practice hanced contractual obligations.
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From today pubs, cafes, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers and cinemas have been given permission to reopen in England. The launch date has been dubbed as Super Saturday. These changes will see a further move towards the reopening of certain businesses that can operate by following the COVID-19 guidelines. The only exception to this easing of lockdown will be local areas that experience a surge in new infections. Recently, this restriction was applied to Leicester. The government has announced specific support measures for pubs, cafes and restaurants. This includes: Simpler licensing process for outdoor seating for pubs, restaurants and cafes Councils encouraged to reduce red-tape and create more outdoor markets Government plans to support outdoor dining as part of efforts to help the economy bounce back from Coronavirus For example, many pubs and restaurants will be able to use car parks and terraces as dining and drinking areas, using their existing seating licenses. There will also be temporary changes to licensing laws to allow qualifying licensed premises, such as pubs and restaurants, to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises The government has also reviewed the two meter social distancing guidelines and will relax this to one-metre with risk mitigation. Without this change it would not be financially viable for many businesses to open especially in sectors such as accommodation, food services and recreation. Some sectors such as nightclubs, indoor gyms and other fitness venues, indoor play areas, swimming pools, spas, and casinos remain closed. There has been no indication given as to when these businesses will be able to reopen.
The government has announced that the scope of the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be extended to help new parents. The newly announced measures are designed to help new parents whose trading profits dipped in 2018-19 because they took time out to have children.
The change in the scheme will allow parents, including mothers, fathers and those who have adopted, who took time out of trading to care for their children within the first 12 months of birth of the child or within 12 months of an adoption placement, to use either their 2017-18 or both their 2016-17 and 2017-18 Self-Assessment returns as the basis for their eligibility for the SEISS.
Further details of the changes are expected to be published by the beginning of July. Claimants will also need to meet the other standard eligibility criteria for support under the SEISS.
The SEISS was recently extended by a further three-month period to 31 August 2020 with applications for the quarter due to open in August. The maximum grant for the three-months will be £6,570 (Previous quarter £7,500) paid in a single instalment. Claims for the first quarter (March-May 2020) will close on 13 July 2020, it has not yet been reported if this deadline will be extended for new parents.
The HM Government guidance titled Working safely during COVID-19 in shops and branches has been updated. The updates relate to managing product handling and returns, the test and trace service, safer travel and managing security risks. The guidance is relevant to all retail stores, bank branches, post offices and other open money businesses. This document sets out guidance on how to work safely and has been prepared by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It gives practical considerations of how this can be applied in the workplace. – The guidance includes advice on the following main areas: – Thinking about risk – Who should go to work – Social distancing at work – Managing your customers – Cleaning the workplace – Personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings – Workforce management – Inbound and outbound goods The guidance applies to those outlets that are currently open and will help those that are currently closed consider how to adapt their operations when they are allowed to open. Employers remain legally responsible to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety and must keep risk assessments for COVID-19 updated as the outbreak risks and government guidance continue to evolve. Public health is devolved in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales so this guidance should be considered in those parts of the UK alongside local public health and safety requirements and legislation.
The option to defer your VAT payments ends on 30 June 2020. The Coronavirus VAT payment holiday gave businesses the chance to defer the payment of any VAT liabilities between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. Businesses that took advantage of deferring their VAT payments should consider the following: – Re-establish any cancelled direct debits in enough time for HMRC to take VAT payments due from 1 July onwards. – Going forward, ensure that VAT returns are submitted as normal. – Pay the VAT in full on any payments due after 30 June 2020. It is important to note that where the payment of VAT has been deferred, any VAT due must be paid by 31 March 2021. Businesses can also make additional payments with subsequent returns. No interest or penalties will accrue on deferred payments that are paid by the new due date. There is no application process required to request this deferral as permission is automatic and all VAT-registered UK businesses are eligible. The choice to defer VAT payments was optional and businesses could still choose to pay any VAT due as normal. The deferral did not cover payments for VAT MOSS or import VAT. HMRC has continued to process VAT reclaims and refunds as normal during this time.
HMT Information about the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) and Future Fund Scheme.
Under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), 49.247 businesses have received funding so far, with lenders approving £10.11 billion.
The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) has approved £1.77 billion in loans to 279 larger businesses.
Under the Bounce Bank Loan Scheme (BBLS), for small and micro businesses, in the five weeks since the launch over 863,584 businesses have successfully applied for funding totalling £26.34 billion.
The Future Fund is a special investment fund for high-growth companies impacted by the crisis, made up of funding from government and the private sector. Funding applications for the Future Fund opened on 20 May 2020 and the first government loans totalling £146.0 million have now been approved for 155 companies.