The Voice of Commercial Archaeology

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Archaeology

Please find the follow resources and information regarding the Coronavirus. We will be updating this often.

Table of Contents

H&S

Government Support (Note there are many catches to this support that will prevent many members from using them we have highlighted those issues)

Legal Matters

Health and Safety

FAME fully endorses adopting the advice on COVID-19 and Undertaking Field Surveys produced by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and Prospect’s Archaeology recommendations.Summary versions of the relevant parts of these are:

Display Screen Safety

For homeworking staff it is worth refreshing yourself with the the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 and best practices.

https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg36.pdf

Government Support

Info from here.

Financial assistance for employers unable to pay statutory redundancy payments

If you cannot afford to pay your employees redundancy pay you can apply to the Redundancy Payments Service (RPS) for financial assistance. If approved, the RPS will make statutory redundancy payments directly to redundant employees on an employer’s behalf.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Government has released guidance on its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Further details can be found here.

Key points:

  • The scheme is open to all employers (businesses, charities, recruitment agencies, and public authorities).
  • Employers can use an online service to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrollment employer pension contributions on that wage. Employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.
  • You must have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020 and have a UK bank account. Furloughed employees must have been on the payroll on 28 February 2020, and can be on any type of contract, including: full-time employees, part-time employees, employees on agency contracts, and employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts.
  • The scheme also covers employees who were made redundant since 28 February 2020, if they are rehired by their employer.
  • To be eligible for the subsidy, when on furlough, an employee can not undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue. While on furlough, the employee’s wage will be subject to usual income tax and other deductions.
  • If an employee is working, but on reduced hours, or for reduced pay, they will not be eligible for this scheme and you will have to continue paying the employee through your payroll and pay their salary subject to the terms of the employment contract you agreed.
  • Not all employees in an organisation need to be furloughed.
  • The 80% calculation is based on the employee’s pre-tax salary. Employees must be paid either 80% of their salary, or £2,500 (whichever is lower), even if this means they end up receiving a wage below the National Living Wage.
  • Employers can only submit one claim at least every 3 weeks, which is the minimum length an employee can be furloughed for. Claims can be backdated until the 1 March if applicable.

Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments

VAT

For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

Eligibility

All UK businesses are eligible.

How to access the scheme

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 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.

Income Tax

For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.

Eligibility

If you are self-employed you are eligible.

How to access the scheme

This is an automatic offer with no applications required.

No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

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 Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities.

Sick pay to employees

Legislation is being forwarded 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. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website
  • eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP 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

Eligibility

You are eligible for the scheme if:

  • your business is UK based
  • your business is a small or medium-sized and employs fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020

Small Business Grant Scheme

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

Eligibility

You are eligible if:

  • your business is based in England
  • you are a small business and already receive SBBR and/or RRR
  • you are a business that occupies property

How to access the scheme

You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.

Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the relevant local authority.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch on Monday (23rd of March) to support primarily small and medium-sized 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 12 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments.

Eligibility

You are eligible for the scheme if:

  • your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per year
  • your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria

How to access the scheme

The full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website. All the major banks will offer the Scheme once it has launched. There are 40 accredited providers in all.

You should talk to your bank or finance provider (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them. This will help your finance provider to act quickly once the Scheme has launched. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

The scheme will be available from early next week commencing 23 March.

NOTE via the BBB website -(They) ‘are in the process of defining and agreeing the scheme’s details, specifications and eligibility and therefore information is subject to change.’ Full eligibility criteria will be published when the scheme goes live w/c 23 March 2020

The criteria as they stand now are:

  • Be UK based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per annum
  • Operate within an eligible industrial sector (a small number of industrial sectors are not eligible for support or subject to limitations – https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Ineligible-and-Restricted-Eligibility-Sector-2017.pdf we do not see this affecting our members)
  • Be able to confirm that they have not received de minimis State aid beyond €200,000 equivalent over the current and previous two fiscal years
  • Be unable to meet a lender’s normal lending requirements for a fully commercial loan or other facility, but would be considered viable in the longer-term – we believe this will help some members but for others it might disqualify. Essentially if one could normally get a loan they will be excluded from this.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

  • The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by Coronavirus. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
  • HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.

To be eligible for the scheme you must meet all the criteria below:

  • Be self-employed or a member of partnership;
  • Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19;
  • File a tax return for 2018-19 as self-employed or a member of a trading partnership. Those who have not yet filed for 2018-19 will have an additional 4 weeks from this announcement to do so;
  • Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID 19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
  • Have trading profits of less than £50,000 and more than half of your total income come from self-employment. This can be with reference to at least one of the following conditions:
    • Your trading profits and total income in 2018/19
    • Your average trading profits and total income across up to the three years between 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.
  • Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational. Grants are expected to start to be paid out by beginning of June 2020.
  • HMRC are publishing guidance on the scheme, which is available here. This guidance will continue to be updated.
  • NOTE –  for those who work for themselves but have set themselves up as a Limited Company. Directors are able to furlough themselves, but can only claim for PAYE income. As many directors claim only part of their income as PAYE and the rest as dividends, only the PAYE payments will qualify for the Job Retention Scheme. There is no support for loss of dividend income.

Legal Matters

From Bates and Wells

Coronavirus and your staff: what if working from home is not an option?

Coronavirus and contractual obligations

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