Government support

Advice and support for businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak

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These are understandably extremely challenging times for our local businesses, their staff and the wider population in general. This page contains information and links to the latest advice and support measures available to businesses. There is also information about how businesses can limit the spread of the virus and support the response to the unprecedented challenges it poses.

Last updated: 3 June 2020

Guidance for employers

NHS Test and Trace Service

Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus in England will now be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes.

The role of employers

The NHS test and trace service will help to manage the risk of the virus re-emerging as restrictions on everyday life are eased, as far as it is deemed safe to do so.

It is vital that employers play their part by:

  • Making their workplaces as safe as possible
  • Encouraging workers to heed any notifications to self-isolate and supporting them when in isolation

Although this may seem disruptive for businesses, it is less disruptive than an outbreak of COVID-19 in the workplace will be, and far less disruptive than periods in lockdown.

The NHS test and trace service is designed to support businesses and economic recovery by:

  • Providing testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus, so that if they have been tested positive, they and their household member know to continue to self-isolate
  • Helping to stop the onward spread of the virus in the workplace and wider society, so that fewer people develop coronavirus and have to self-isolate
  • Enabling the government to go further in safely easing or lifting lockdown measures, as far as it is deemed safe to do so, thereby allowing the nation to return to normal as quickly as possible

Detailed guidance on the NHS test and trace service for employers, business, workers and the self-employed can be found here and covers the following key points:

  • Workplace risk
  • Supporting employers with a workplace outbreak
  • Supporting workers who need to self-isolate

This guidance should be used in conjunction with the Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) section below.

Staying Alert and Safe (Social Distancing)

As the UK moves to the next phase in our fight against coronavirus, the most important thing we can do is to stay alert, control the virus, and in doing so, save lives. Further guidance is available here.

Working Safely During Coronavirus

The government, in consultation with industry, has produced guidance to help employers ensure workplaces are as safe as possible.

The guidance covers 8 workplace settings which are allowed to be open, from outdoor environments and construction sites to factories and takeaways. This sets out practical steps for businesses focused on 5 key points, which should be implemented as soon as it is practical:

  1. Work from home, if you can
  2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions
  3. Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible
  4. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk
  5. Reinforcing cleaning processes

** Note to readers: Retail **

On 25th May, the UK Government announced a roadmap for reopening a broader range of shops starting from next month. 

From 1 June 2020, it intends to allow outdoor markets to reopen, subject to all premises being made COVID-secure, as well as car showrooms, which often have significant outdoor space and where it is generally easier to apply social distancing.

From 15 June 2020, UK Government intends to allow all other retailers, ranging from shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, if the Government’s five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines.

Updated guidance for the retail sector has been published alongside this announcement, detailing the measures retailers should take to meet the necessary social distancing and hygiene standards. You can find the guidance in the ‘Shops & branches’ section below.

These 8 guides cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.

  1. Construction and other outdoor work - Guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments.
  2. Factories, plants and warehouses - Guidance for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses.
  3. Labs and research facilities - Guidance for people who work in or run indoor labs and research facilities and similar environments.
  4. Offices and contact centres - Guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments.
  5. Other people's homes - Guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to other people's homes.
  6. Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery - Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants offering takeaway or delivery services.
  7. Shops and branches - Guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.
  8. Vehicles - Guidance for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar.

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) business webinars – find out how to make your workplace COVID-secure: In addition to the above guidance, to find out more about how to make your workplace COVID-secure, you are invited to join a free webinar hosted by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The webinars cover a range of different types of workplace settings which are allowed to be open. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of the guides/webinars as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.

Actions for educational and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020 in England: Guidance is available on how educational and childcare settings should prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020, including information on year groups in the first phase of wider opening, the latest science, and managing risk and rate of transmission of coronavirus.

All the latest guidance and advice about coronavirus in educational settings for staff, parents and carers, pupils and students is available here.

National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) Covid-19 SME Guidance

NCSC has published guidance to support businesses moving from physical to digital delivery as part of the ongoing Covid-19 response. The guidance has been created specifically to support businesses who are relying more heavily on IT services to run their business.

The NCSC is committed to equipping all UK businesses with the best cyber security advice. The support package includes guidance on home working, video teleconferencing and spotting email scams related to Covid-19.

National Business Helpline: If you have a query that isn’t covered by this guidance you can contact the National Business Support Helpline on: FREEPHONE 0800 998 1098

Financial support for businesses

Business Rates Relief: Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year regardless of their rateable value. There is no action for you. Local authorities will apply the business rates holiday to your bills; however, they may have to reissue your bill. They will do this as soon as possible. For more information please check the guidance on gov.uk.

In addition to these measures, Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of £15,000 and under may be eligible for a grant of £10,000. Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 may be eligible for a grant of £25,000.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the grants should be directed to the relevant local authority. To find your local authority use this search tool, alternatively; details for BCP Council can be found here, and Dorset Council here.

Nurseries in England do not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year. Properties that will benefit from the relief will be those occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and are wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage. There is no action for you. Local authorities will apply the business rates holiday to your bills. For more information please check the guidance on gov.uk.

Small Business Grant Funding: The Government is providing additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Eligible businesses will be contacted by their local authority, though some local authorities have decided to operate an applications process. Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the grants should be directed to the relevant local authority. To find your local authority, use this search tool, alternatively; details for BCP Council can be found here, and Dorset Council here.

Discretionary Grants Scheme: Small and micro businesses with fixed property costs that are not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund may be eligible for the Discretionary Grants Fund. This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. Local authorities are being asked to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates.

Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures. Local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need.

The maximum grant will be £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000. Local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000.

For further details and to apply, please check with your local council for details of their scheme;

Bounce Back Loan Scheme – Launching on 4th May 2020, the Bounce Back Loan scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to 6 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan. The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.

You can apply for a loan if your business:

  • is based in the UK

  • has been negatively affected by coronavirus

  • was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019

The following businesses are not eligible to apply:

  • banks, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)

  • public-sector bodies

  • state-funded primary and secondary schools

You cannot apply if you’re already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) (below).

If you’ve already received a loan of up to £50,000 under CBILS and would like to transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan scheme, you can arrange this with your lender until 4 November 2020.

Further information about the scheme can be found here.

Extended Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS): The Government has extended the CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time.

The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals. The government will continue to cover the first twelve months of interest and fees.

Please find further details here: https://bit.ly/UpdatedCBILS

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS): 

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) supports large businesses with an annual turnover of over £45 million.

All viable businesses with turnover of more than £45 million per year can apply for up to £25 million of finance, whilst firms with a turnover of more than £250 million can apply for up to £200 million of finance.

Finance is available from 3 months to 3 years.

The scheme is available through a series of accredited lenders, which are listed on the British Business Bank website. The government provides lenders with an 80% guarantee on individual loans. This gives banks the confidence to lend to many more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus. Facilities backed by a guarantee under CLBILS are offered at commercial rates of interest.

The full rules of the scheme and guidance on how to apply is available on the British Business Bank website here, you can also download this factsheet for further information.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing: From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for their normal hours not worked. When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours; employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.

The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full 3-week period prior to 30 June. This means that the final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 June, in order for the current 3-week furlough period to be completed by 30 June. Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June.

Further guidance on flexible furloughing and how employers should calculate claims will be published on 12 June.

From August 2020, the level of UK Government grant provided through the job retention scheme will be slowly tapered to reflect that people will be returning to work. That means that for June and July the Government will continue to pay 80% of people’s salaries. In the following months, businesses will be asked to contribute a modest share, but crucially, individuals will continue to receive that 80% of salary covering the time they are unable to work.

The scheme updates mean that the following will apply for the period people are furloughed:

  • June and July: The UK Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything.
  • August: UK Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
  • September: UK Government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,190. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 14% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
  • October: UK Government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 23% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.

Further information about how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing is available here.

HMRC have produced this step by step guidance on how to make a claim. There is also a calculator to help you work out your claim. The system can process up to 450,000 applications per hour and employers should receive the money within 6 working days of making an application.

Click here to make a claim.

Time to Pay up-scaled: A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities to receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement.

An overview of government Coronavirus Financial Support is available on the government website.

UK Export Finance (UKEF): UK Export Finance has expanded the scope of its Export Insurance Policy (EXIP) meaning UK businesses will now be eligible to secure export insurance cover to all major markets.
You should now:
1. Visit the government Business Support website for more information about these and additional measures and support available to your business. This website will continue to be updated with the latest information.
2. Pay particular attention to the guidance for employees, employers and businesses which is being updated regularly with the latest advice.
3. Read the guidance for UK businesses trading internationally
4. Take steps to protect yourself and others.

Future Fund: UK businesses driving innovation and development will be helped through the coronavirus outbreak with a £1.25 billion government support package. The comprehensive package includes a new £500 million loan scheme for high-growth firms, called the Future Fund, and £750 million of targeted support for small and medium sized businesses focusing on research and development.

The Future Fund will issue convertible loans to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Future Fund will provide government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors.

These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that rely on equity investment and are unable to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. 

The scheme is being delivered in partnership with the British Business Bank and is now open for applications. Find out more about the scheme and how to apply here.

Financial support for education, early years and children’s social care: Funding and financial support available for education, childcare and children’s social care organisations. Find out more here.

Financial support for England’s fishing businesses: The £10 million fund for England’s fishing and aquaculture sectors, first announced by Defra and HM Treasury on 17 April, supports fishing and aquaculture businesses that have been adversely impacted by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are two funds, both administered by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) that will target those most in need.

The first fund of £9 million is called the Fisheries Response Fund (FRF) and will directly contribute towards the fixed business costs of over 1000 catching and aquaculture businesses that have been adversely impacted by the downturn of export and domestic markets for fish and shellfish. Qualifying fishing vessel owners will be contacted directly in stages by MMO from Monday 20 April 2020.

The second fund has a value of £1 million and will be allocated to grant payments towards aquaculture businesses operating costs. The grants of up to £10,000 will directly contribute to ongoing production costs. From Thursday, 7 May 2020, eligible businesses will be contacted directly by MMO with further details on how to apply.

Further information can be found here.

Find out more about aquaculture in Dorset here.

New funding to support dairy farmers through coronavirus: A new dairy response fund will enable eligible dairy farmers in England to access up to £10,000 each to help them overcome the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Recognising that dairy farmers have fixed costs of production which some may have struggled to meet during the coronavirus outbreak, from 18 June farmers in England who have experienced 25% price losses in April and May will be able to apply for a single payment from the fund.

This funding, which will be paid out from 6 July, will help farmers maintain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare, following reduced demand for milk products as restaurants, bars and cafes have closed.

Qualifying farmers can apply for support to cover up to 70% of their losses due to coronavirus disruption across April and May, up to a total amount of £10,000 each.

To be eligible for support from the fund, farmers will need to demonstrate that they have suffered a reduction in the base price paid for their milk of 25% or more in April 2020 when compared with February 2020.

Recognising the need for the rapid processing of applications and payments, eligible farmers will be able to submit applications directly to the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) from 18 June, with payments expected from 6 July.

Further details of the fund and application process will be shared by the RPA in the coming weeks, but dairy farmers who think they will be eligible can get ready now by preparing details of their production levels for February, April and May 2020.

On this page you will find all financial Coronavirus Business Support schemes announced thus far by the Chancellor.

In addition, the British Business Bank and The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) have created new content to help businesses that are facing financial and operational challenges as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. You can view this regularly updated guidance at the Business Finance Guide website.

Other business support measures

Filing your annual accounts with Companies House: If Coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts, you should act before your filing deadline. Your company should take appropriate measures to ensure accounts are filed on time. If, immediately before the filing deadline, it becomes apparent that accounts will not be filed on time due to your company being affected by COVID-19, you may make an application to extend the period allowed for filing. Find out how to apply for more time to file your company’s accounts.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Rebate Scheme: From Tuesday 26 May 2020, small and medium-sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, will be able to apply to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to their employees.

Employers will be able to make claims to the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme through a new online service. Employers will receive repayments at the relevant rate of SSP that they have paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020. 

You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time for that employee.

Your claim amount should not take you above the state aid limits under the EU Commission temporary framework. This is when combined with other aid received under the framework. The maximum level of state aid that a business may receive is €800,000. There is a lower maximum for agriculture at €100,000 and aquaculture and fisheries at €120,000.

HMRC has published online guidance which includes information about who can use the scheme and the records employers must keep. 

Insurance: 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.

However, 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. Some businesses may have purchased a specific add on relating to notifiable diseases, but some of these will still specify damage to the building. Some businesses may have purchased supply chain or denial of access cover which may meet their needs in this case.

An overview of government Coronavirus Financial Support is available on the government website.

VAT Deferral: This is an automatic offer with no applications required. UK Registered businesses will not need to make VAT payments normally due with VAT returns during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020-21 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. Please do so in sufficient time so that HMRC do not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of your VAT return.

The deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

Further information is available here.

Deferral of Self-Assessment Payment: If you are due to make a self-assessment payment on account on 31 July 2020 then you are eligible for the deferment. The deferment is intended to assist self-assessment taxpayers, including those who are self-employed, who are suffering hardship as a result of the coronavirus.

The deferment is optional and any persons still able to pay their second self-assessment payment on account on 31 July 2020 should still do so.

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged if you defer payment of your July 2020 payment on account until January 2021.

HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of coronavirus and have outstanding tax liabilities.

Further information is available here.

Extension to tax policy consultations – HM Treasury and HMRC have set out new timelines for tax policy consultations and other work in the light of the current COVID-19 crisis.

Support from Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations: The Government is working closely with Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations to support the national response to coronavirus, and ensure business voices are heard. Each sector has its own business organisation, and many can help you with finding sector specific support.

Find out more information here.

HMRC COVID-19 webinars: Government departments are hosting a series of webinars to help businesses understand the support available:

You can watch a video of the recorded webinar on the HMRC YouTube channel Coronavirus (COVID-19): helping employers to support employees.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): helping employers to support employees. You can also register to attend a free webinar to learn more about the support available to help you deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus by registering here.

Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp: Updated with business support advice. Text ‘hi’ to 07860064422 via Whatsapp and there are business support measures highlighted under option 5 with the relevant links to gov.uk pages.

Temporary Trade Credit Insurance Guarantee: Businesses with supply chains which rely on Trade Credit Insurance and who are experiencing difficulties maintaining cover due to Coronavirus will get support from the government. The Government will temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance, ensuring the majority of insurance coverage will be maintained across the market.

The government will work with businesses and the industry on the full details of the scheme to ensure firms are supported and risk is appropriately shared between the government and insurers.

The guarantees will cover trading by domestic firms and exporting firms and the intent is for agreements to be in place with insurers by end of this month.

The guarantee will be temporary and targeted to cover CV-19 economic challenges, and will provisionally last until the end of the year.

Further information is available here.

Supporting employees

Testing: Everyone in the United Kingdom with symptoms is now eligible for a coronavirus test.

Anyone experiencing a new, continuous cough; high temperature; and now also a loss of or change in your normal sense of smell or taste can book a test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus. You can select a regional test site drive-through appointment or order a home test kit. Home test kit availability will initially be limited but more will become available.

You need to have the test in the first 5 days of having symptoms. It's best to ask for the test in the first 3 days, as it may take a day or two to arrange.

Essential Workers

A separate portal is available for essential workers to book their test. Tests can be arranged by self-referral, or employer referral. Self-referral tests can be booked here.

The employer referral portal allows employers to refer essential workers who are self-isolating either because they or member(s) of their household have coronavirus symptoms, for testing.

The employer referral portal is a secure portal for employers to use to upload the full list of names and contact details of self-isolating essential workers.

If referred through this portal, essential workers will receive a text message with a unique invitation code to book a test for themselves (if symptomatic) or their symptomatic household member(s) at a regional testing site.
In order to obtain a login, employers of essential workers should email portalservicedesk@dhsc.gov.uk with:

  • organisation name
  • nature of the organisation’s business
  • region
  • names (where possible) and email addresses of the 2 users who will load essential worker contact details

Once employer details have been verified, 2 login credentials will be issued for the employer referral portal.

Social distancing in the workplace: To support businesses that remain open during this period in England, the government has published additional guidance to assist employers, businesses and their staff in staying open safely during coronavirus (COVID-19). For specific settings please refer to sector specific guidance.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): Those who follow advice to stay at home and who cannot work as a result will be eligible for SSP, even if they are not themselves sick. Employers should use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate in making decisions about sick pay.

If you’re not eligible for SSP – for example if you’re self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £120 per week – and you have coronavirus or are advised to stay at home, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or new style Employment and Support Allowance.

If you’re eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have coronavirus or are advised to stay at home.

For those on a low income and already claiming Universal Credit, it is designed to automatically adjust depending on people’s earnings or other income. However, if someone needs money urgently they can apply for an advance through the journal.

Certifying absence from work: By law, medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness. After 7 days, employers may use their discretion around the need for medical evidence if an employee is staying at home.

If you have coronavirus or are advised to stay at home, you can get an ‘isolation note’ by visiting NHS 111 online, rather than visiting a doctor. For coronavirus cases this replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) after 7 days of sickness absence.

The government is strongly encouraging employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to stay at home either as they are unwell themselves, or live with someone who is, in accordance with the public health advice issued by the government.

What to do if an employee needs time off work to look after someone: Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a ‘dependant’) in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations related to coronavirus (COVID-19). For example, if they have children they need to look after or arrange childcare for because their school has closed to help their child or another dependant if they’re sick, or need to go into isolation or hospital.

There’s no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.

ACAS have more information on coronavirus and can help with specific queries by phone.

Domestic Abuse: The order to stay at home can cause anxiety for those who are experiencing or feel at risk of domestic abuse. As an employer, you can play an important role in reassuring staff that they can still leave their home if they are experiencing domestic abuse and that there is still support available, including online support, helplines, refuges and the police. We encourage you to share this important message with staff using the information provided in the Home Office’s employer pack.

Regional Redeployment Service: As a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, this regional redeployment service aims to match those recently made redundant with new work in sectors experiencing a surge in employment demand such as food retail, care and distribution.

It will engage with and support employers needing to make redundancies to ensure a smooth transition for employees into new work.

Support is also available for individuals who have lost their jobs or whose jobs have been affected during the crisis.

Details of the service can be found here.

Further guidance and support for employees during coronavirus (COVID-19) is available here.

How businesses can help

Offer coronavirus (COVID-19) support from your business: Use this service to tell us how your business might be able to help with the response to coronavirus. The support needed includes things like:

  • medical testing equipment
  • medical equipment design
  • protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser
  • hotel rooms
  • transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
  • manufacturing equipment
  • warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
  • expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, engineering or communications
  • social care or childcare

To offer support click here.

Guidance for businesses seeking to help voluntary, community, and social enterprise organisations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: The voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector plays a key role across the country, positively impacting the life of many. The sector has been mobilising across the UK providing practical and emotional support to vulnerable groups.

Understandably, the financial implications to mobilising and supporting volunteers and the increased demand in services has placed pressure on the sector. While the government has announced £750m of additional funding to support the VCSE sector, businesses can also play a valuable role in supporting the sector’s response to the outbreak.

Further details of how your business can help can be found here.

Limiting the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in business and workplaces: Businesses and employers can help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) by reminding everyone of the public health advice. Posters, leaflets and other materials are available.

Employees and customers should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently than normal.

Frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products.

School closures: From 1 June, at the earliest, primary schools in England may be able to welcome back children in key transition years – nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6. Secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges will also be able to provide some face-to-face support with young people in year 10 and year 12 to help them prepare for exams next year. 

Schools remain open to vulnerable children and those of critical workers where they can. Employers are responsible for identifying key workers within their business - please think carefully before identifying your staff as key workers and please encourage them to keep their child/children home where applicable. 

Further guidance about school opening is available here.

Business support FAQs

An FAQ section has been added to the government website with details on staying at home as well as a full list of the exceptions to the businesses the government has ordered to close - there has been no government-ordered closure of any other businesses.

Government support webinars

The UK Government, in consultation with industry, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces in England are as safe as possible during the coronavirus pandemic. Join a free webinar, hosted by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to find out more about how to make your workplace COVID-secure.

The webinars cover a range of different types of workplace settings which are allowed to be open. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of the guides/webinars as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.

 

As always, the Dorset LEP’s Dorset Gateway team is ready to offer specific business support. We are available on the contact information below. We are happy to be able to help our local businesses at this time with our free bespoke business advice and signposting.

We will update this page as new information becomes available and update you through our social media channels.