What health and safety measures do I need to take when reopening my business?

Employers that want to reopen their business have a legal responsibility to protect their employees and other people on site.

Use this guidance (which will provide information tailored to your type of business, the number of employees you have and whether you have customers on site) to help you carry out a risk assessment and make sensible adjustments to the site and workforce.

How does holiday pay work for furloughed employees?

  • Furloughed employees continue to accrue leave as per their employment contract.
  • The employer and employee can agree to vary holiday entitlement as part of the furlough agreement, however almost all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks of statutory paid annual leave each year which they cannot go below.
  • Employees can take holiday while on furlough. If an employee is flexibly furloughed then any hours taken as holiday during the claim period should be counted as furloughed hours rather than working hours. Employees should not be placed on furlough for a period simply because they are on holiday for that period. Working Time Regulations require holiday pay to be paid at the employee’s normal rate of pay or, where the rate of pay varies, calculated on the basis of the average pay received by the employee in the previous 52 working weeks. Therefore, if a furloughed employee takes holiday, the employer should pay their usual holiday pay in accordance with the Working Time Regulations.
  • Employers will be obliged to pay additional amounts over the grant, though will have the flexibility to restrict when leave can be taken if there is a business need. This applies for both the furlough period and the recovery period.
  • If an employee usually works bank holidays then the employer can agree that this is included in the grant payment. If the employee usually takes the bank holiday as leave then the employer would either have to top up their usual holiday pay, or give the employee a day of holiday in lieu.

Find out more information on holiday pay during furlough.

Can furloughed staff still do some work for the business?

No.  However a furloughed employee can take part in volunteer work or training, as long as it does not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation.

However, if workers are required to for example, complete online training courses whilst they are furloughed, then they must be paid at least the NLW/NMW for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.

How do we access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme?

You should apply via your lender’s website or through one of the 40 accredited finance providers offering the scheme (and not the British Business Bank).  You should approach a lender yourself, ideally via the lender’s website. Note: There is high demand for CBILS facilities. Phone lines are likely to be busy and branches may not be able to handle enquiries in person or may currently be shut down to enable social distancing.   Read more >>

Will our business insurance policies typically cover coronavirus losses?

Unfortunately most will not. According to the  Association of British Insurers:

Only a very small number of businesses choose to buy any form of cover that includes business interruption due to a notifiable or infectious disease. Usually these extensions list very specific diseases that are covered, not any notifiable disease that may emerge such as COVID-19. An even smaller number will have cover where the notifiable or infectious disease is unspecified enabling them to potentially claim for the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. However, such policies often respond only when the disease is present at the premises as they cover the interruption to trade caused where business premises have been infected by an illness such as Legionnaires’ disease or norovirus and where the building needs to be closed and cleaned to deal with the specific incident.

Speak to your insurer directly to confirm whether or not you are covered.