Budget Breakdown: Coronavirus Takes the Spotlight

By Nicola Mullineux
12 Mar 2020

The first budget of the new Government has been unveiled. There were several announcements that are set to have an ongoing impact on organisations across the UK. Here are the ones you need to know:

2020 Budget

Brexit & Coronavirus

There was much speculation prior to the 11th March that the budget would focus heavily on Brexit. Unsurprisingly however, the limelight has been hijacked by the Coronavirus outbreak. Many of the announcements address the issues caused by the virus. Some of these are specific to employers, others not so much. We’re going to take a look at the ones most likely to impact you and your business.

Sick pay changes

Perhaps the most significant changes are those surrounding Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). First, was a policy that had already been announced: (SSP) is to be payable from day one. This is opposed to day four, as is standard, and will apply to all individuals that contract the virus.

Individuals will be able to get a sick note through the NHS 111 service. However, Sunak also announced that SSP will be payable to those who are advised to self-isolate without showing symptoms. However, it’s currently unclear how this would work in practice.

For example, would any employee who believes they have the virus now get SSP? Will this be a day one right?

We don’t know yet. But updates are likely to come in soon.

Following this announcement, you might be concerned over how you will meet this cost. If you were worried, you’ll be relieved to hear that firms with fewer than 250 members of staff will have SSP costs for up to two weeks refunded.

Additionally, smaller firms will also be able to access ‘business interruption’ loans of up to £1.2m to cover their salaries and bills. It’s unknown how long the coronavirus outbreak is going to last. But it seems the government is prepared to support businesses if they do have to take steps to prevent the spread of the virus throughout their workforce.

These announcements also provide some clarity on pay when employees are in self-isolation without symptoms. Up until this point, employers were not required to pay the individual unless they specifically enforced the isolation.

Other changes

The government has reaffirmed their previous pledges to keep increasing the national living wage to £10.50 an hour by 2024. This had previously been put into doubt in post-election commentary. This may place an additional burden on businesses, so it’s worth planning and budgeting for this now, instead of leaving it until the last minute.

There is one final announcement that is likely to impact businesses. National insurance relief will to be provided to employers who hire veterans. It’s ultimately up to you who you hire, of course. But this will serve as a strong incentive when considering taking such steps.

It’s not yet confirmed when these provisions will come into place. However, as coronavirus cases are increasing rapidly, employers should expect changes soon.

Budget or breakdown?

The budget announcements should come as a relief to employers, but there are still a few creases to iron out. Not to mention that some implementation dates are yet to be clarified.

Understandably, some of you would like further clarity. So, for support and guidance, call an industry expert on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Nicola Mullineux

Nicola Mullineux, as Group Content Manager, leads a team of employment law content writers who produce guidance and commentary on employment law, case law and key HR developments. She has written articles for national publications for over 10 years and regularly helps to shape employment of the future by taking part in Government consultations on employment law change.


Nicola Mullineux

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