COVID-19

***The information given on these pages is the legal stance based on the government advice, please be mindful that this advice can change. This is the absolute minimum required by law. It is the Employer's decision whether they need their employee to work and what they pay to their nanny, you are allowed to pay above the minimum if you wish to. Making decisions about whether to pay more than the minimum can be a very difficult one, you will need to consider many things, such as, your future relationship with your employee and the affordability for you and your employee in these troubling times. It is wonderful to see that many employers have been able to retain their employees on full pay during this pandemic, but we appreciate that some will not be able to. Please be assured that this is your decision to make.***

Copy of email sent to clients on 01/04/20.

As always I thank you for allowing me to update you as the Government update their guidance on the UK response to Covid-19.

All guidance we supply is linked to a current gov.uk source and is legally correct.  We offer this advice so our clients can then make an informed choice on how to explore options with their Nanny. 

I have two updates to confirm to you today:

Have the Government confirmed if an employer of a Nanny is eligible to claim costs under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

It is still not possible for NannyPaye to confirm completely that you will have access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant. However, we note that the wording surrounding the eligibility of the grant has now removed the mention of ‘all UK businesses’.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme#who-can-claim

This makes us far more confident that you will be able to claim your eligible furlough costs and employers should consider this now as at a low risk of financial loss. We hasten to add that should you not be eligible under the application criteria you would be liable for all wages paid under furlough to your employee.

This still does not mean that every scenario meets the criteria for furlough.  Please ensure you only apply furlough in situations where your employee would have otherwise been laid off/made redundant or shielding for example.

Gov.uk FAQ’s Section

On 29th March, Gov.uk have issued a very useful FAQ section to their website that we have linked to below.  The vast amount of misinformation currently circulating seems to have caused much confusion and distress, so we welcome this update from gov.uk.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do

That said every employer should take a sensitive approach given that this is a global health crisis and people are naturally worried.  Regardless of the clear guidance provided by the FAQ’s we recommend that employers explore any legitimate concerns their employee has to try to come to a mutually beneficial resolution.

Copy of email sent to clients on 27/03/20.

May I start by thanking you in advance for your patience with the NannyPaye team over the coming weeks.  As you can imagine we are running a service for many thousands of UK employers most requiring increased support whilst our team here is drastically depleted and disrupted.

My e-mail today is to highlight an update last night (26th March 2020) from Gov.UK regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.  I have linked to the update below but will highlight the points I feel most pertinent in this e-mail.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme  

Have the Government confirmed if an employer of a Nanny is eligible to claim?

Sadly in our view we still do not have a firm confirmation of your eligibility to the scheme.  Whilst we feel the spirit of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme should make you eligible this has yet to be confirmed.

HMRC have updated their wording slightly to reflect all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support as below:

“Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.”

However, they have still kept the eligibility criteria as ‘all UK Businesses’.  We have commented in our previous updates that the employer of a Nanny is not normally recognised as a business.

This has been further reinforced with a list of organisations with employees that can apply. This is not an exhaustive list but does not specifically mention employers of domestic workers which we would have hoped to see.

  • businesses
  • charities
  • recruitment agencies (agency workers paid through PAYE)
  • public authorities

NannyPaye will keep updating you as the guidance becomes more specific.

When did my Nanny have to had started?

This is a key update and will affect many of our clients based on the calls we have been receiving.  Gov.uk states:

“The scheme is open to all UK employers that had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on 28 February 2020.”

“Furloughed employees must have been on your PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020, and can be on any type of contract”

“Employees hired after 28 February 2020 cannot be furloughed or claimed for in accordance with this scheme.”

We interpret this as immediately excluding any employer whose employee(s) started from 29th February onwards.  We have received many calls from clients asking if they can Furlough their employees from their start date.  If that start date is 29th February or later the conclusion is no and they should seek advice from NannyPaye on the appropriate next steps.

How much can you claim for?

It has now been confirmed that you will now be able to claim for 80% of the gross salary (up to £2500) PLUS your Employer NIC costs and Employer Pension cost on that 80%.

What if my Nanny’s pay varies. How much should I pay through furlough?

Gov.uk states:

“If the employee has been employed (or engaged by an employment business) for a full twelve months prior to the claim, you can claim for the higher of either:

  • the same month’s earning from the previous year
  • average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year

If the employee has been employed for less than a year, you can claim for an average of their monthly earnings since they started work.

If the employee only started in February 2020, use a pro-rata for their earnings so far to claim.”

How much should I pay my employee under furlough?

You cannot reduce your employees wage below the lower of 80% of their salary of £2500 per month.  You can pay a full salary but you will incur the cost of the difference between your claim amount and the full salary cost.

How long can I furlough my Nanny for?

There is a minimum period of three weeks to be able to make a claim for costs and the scheme is currently due to end on 31st May 2020. When the scheme ends the employer will need to make a decision dependent on your circumstance as to whether your Nanny can return to duties or if it may be necessary to consider termination of employment (redundancy). As always please seek specific advice around this matter from our legal team.

What if I made my Nanny redundant since 29th February 2020 and would have otherwise furloughed if I had been aware of the scheme?

In this situation you can re-employ people and then furlough them.  Please seek guidance from our legal team before taking any action in this area.

Copy of email sent to clients on 24/03/20.

As always I am grateful for your support in allowing NannyPaye to advise you in a proportionate way as we are advised by our qualified legal team and led by the Governments response to the COVID-19 crisis.

We have today received an unprecedented number of calls and e-mails surrounding the Governments last two major announcements:

• The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

• New measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Our efforts to guide you through the current events are being frustrated by a lack of follow up detail from the Government and also a vast amount of unconfirmed information circulating on social media and from other childcare commentators.

NannyPaye will only offer you advice that we are sure we are able to document directly from a Government source rather than 3rd party websites. This means whilst it is enticing for NannyPaye to provide the answers everyone wishes to hear we will focus upon the facts.

NannyPaye also stresses that we will always provide a range of options for our clients so that you can make an informed choice on how you wish to proceed with your employee. Should you or your employee disagree with our advice please refer to the Government website we have drawn our guidance from.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Chancellor announced on Friday 20th March to offer support to businesses though the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Whilst we welcome these proposals we are still looking for clarity on the eligibility criteria to access the scheme.

The COVID-19: Support for Business web page (linked below) quotes that ‘all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.’

However, the eligibility is listed as ‘All UK businesses’ which the employer of a Nanny is not broadly recognised as. Should our client base be confirmed as eligible (which may take some time to confirm in the current unprecedented times) we will of course contact you to investigate claiming any allowable wage costs.

Having spoken to multiple sources at HMRC they have advised that they strongly believe all employers will be eligible for the scheme. Whilst this would be excellent news for our clients and their employees I must stress that the Government published guidance is still currently unclear.

What is the scheme and how does it help?

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

This may be relevant if you are now working from home or have been made redundant by your own employer and so for a temporary period you have no need for childcare.

You will need to:

• designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation

• submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

Why would you use this scheme?

The benefit to your employer/employee relationship from this announcement is immeasurable. It gives the hope that your employee can be retained whilst still receiving a large portion of their contractual pay at little cost to you the employer.

It saves the employer/employee relationship ending completely during what is hoped to be a short to medium period of disruption to UK life.

Why would you not use this scheme?

Our concern is that our clients make an employment decision to furlough an employee keeping them on a substantial wage rate and then be found to not be eligible for the 80% cost refund. Should you have chosen an alternative route such as redundancy or layoff (both of which I hasten to add are not desirable) your costs would have been substantially reduced.

How do you furlough an employee?

Your employee must agree to be furloughed which is likely to not be an issue considering the alternatives and attractive financial offering. We have prepared a letter for you to use to offer your employee furlough and to gain her signed acceptance to these new terms.

You then need to decide upon a date that the furlough should start and the salary level you are keeping your Nanny at. The Government will refund up to £2500 a month or 80% of the original salary (we believe).

Please then update NannyPaye of the new salary arrangement and the date the furlough started/will start.

We have drafted a template Furlough agreement for you to use in this scenario here.

How do you receive your funding?

Full details of the scheme have not yet been published and the Government is in the process of setting up a special portal to enable you/NannyPaye to request financial support to enable furlough payments to be made.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

New measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19

The Prime Minister announced on Monday 23rd March that the government is introducing three new measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes

2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces

3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public

The staying at home measures (taken directly from the Government web site) read as follows:

You should only leave the house for one of four reasons:

• Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.

• One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.

• Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.

• Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

This is a fluid situation but our interpretation of this guidance is that (as your Nanny cannot perform her role from her own home) she/he should attend work as normal.

If she/he is unable or unwilling to do so and is not ill or self-isolating they are effectively absent without authorised leave and would not be entitled to pay.

You can of course pay a discretionary goodwill salary to your Nanny to ensure their wellbeing in this difficult period or perhaps negotiate alternate options such as your Nanny taking paid annual leave.

If your Nanny is refusing to travel to work we would advise our clients to contact the employee, clarify the position and ask them to come in.

We would advise against any sort of disciplinary action because if the employee has a genuine and reasonable belief that it is unsafe for them to come to work, they can (in principle) bring claims if they are disciplined or suffer a detriment because of this.

We have linked to the current government guidance here :

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others?mc_cid=797dc2f154&mc_eid=3b06d4b412