Coronavirus (COVID-19) and your Payroll Service

 

 

 

 

Updated:  23rd March 2020

This page is intended to help employers and our clients understand and navigate the ever changing situation affecting them during the Coronavirus pandemic.

These are uncertain times for everyone and we want to bring you up to date, as best we can and reassure you that your your payroll, pension and BACS services will continue uninterrupted over the coming months.

The government are making announcements at 5pm daily.  We are keeping up to date with the changes which are designed to help employers improve their cashflow situation and also to help keep their employees paid.

The latest government advice dated 20th March 2020 covers SSP, COVID-19 SSP, Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and other helpful information.

COVID-19 guidance for employers and employees

COVID-19 Support for Businesses – Job Retention Scheme, COVID-19 SSP and other grants

Below we have also detailed the Cox & Co. Business Continuity Plan for COVID-19 and also some further information regarding your payroll submission.

This situation is completely uncharted and with each government announcement there are new systems that need to be developed and emergency legislation put into place.  Please bear with us.

Cox & Co. is currently in PHASE ONE of its Business Continuity Plan

Payroll changes

2020-2021 Payroll Software update

The 2020-2021 payroll software update from Iris Software Group has now been installed and we are now ready to roll your PAYE schemes forward into the new tax year from 6th April 2020.

P60s

We aim to issue P60s by early May 2020.  P60s are issued to employees via our myePayWindow service. The mandatory deadline for an employer to issue P60s is 31st May 2020.

Year end and Audits

If you are expecting a year end audit and require additional reporting our current lead time is 2 weeks.   

Statutory Sick Pay Changes

  • Emergency legislation was passed on 13th March 2020 that ensures employees suffering from COVID-19 or self-isolating, will be entitled to SSP from day 1, rather than observing the usual 3 waiting days.  The first 14 days sick days  paid in relation to COVID-19 will also be refunded by the government.
  • 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.
  • ‘Fit-notes/Self isolating notes’ for COVID-19 are being issue by NHS Direct.   Employers are being urged to carry out suitable investigative and recording measures.
  • If you have a member of staff off work with COVID-19 or in self-isolation you must include all details on your payroll submission.  SSP COVID-19 will be stated on the employee’s payslip and we cannot do this without the relevant audit trail.
  • If you have occupational sick pay in place, please ensure an employee’s sickness payments are recorded on your payroll submission and identify if this is COVID-19 related.
  • Your payroll submission should clearly state: name of employee, first day of sickness, last day of sickness, reason for sickness, occupational pay/terms and working pattern.
  • COVID-19 related sick pay is only payable from 13th March 2020.
  • Please note, reclaiming SSP is not made through our payroll software or your PAYE liabilities. This will require employers (yourself) to collate the data to be used in the reclaim later in the year.
  • The government has announced:

“The government will work with stakeholders over the coming months to set up a repayment mechanism as soon as possible.”

Furloughed Worker

If your employer cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19, they may be able to access support to continue paying part of your wage, to avoid redundancies.

If your employer intends to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a ‘furloughed worker’. This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off.

To qualify for this scheme, you should not undertake work for them while you are furloughed. This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

You will remain employed while furloughed. Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to.

If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

The government intends for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to run for at least 3 months from 1 March 2020, but will extend if necessary.

If employees are unable to come to work because they have children at home from school or if caring for someone who is sick (not COVID-19), they are entitled to take reasonable time off from work, payment for this is at your discretion.  However, if the employee is caring for someone with COVID-19 they will most likely have to self-isolate and therefore will be entitled to COVID-19 related SSP.  Please ensure you understand each situation on it’s own merit and when reporting your payroll provide as much detail as possible so that your account manager can create the audit trail.

Each employee that are being ‘furloughed’ must have this clearly marked on their payslip.

ACAS has published this guidance Avoiding redundancies

It is imperative that your payroll submission clearly states the situation for each of you affected employees.

Cox & Co. Business Continuity Update

Cox & Co. has a Business Continuity Team consisting of:

 

The BC team is fully briefed on the business continuity plan and are ready to enact certain sections as and when required.

Remote Working

Keeping our staff safe and well is our highest priority.  At the time of writing all Cox & Co. staff are working from home and this will continue during the pandemic.

To contact us during this time please telephone 0117 9323444 and leave a message.  Our staff are accessing messages remotely and will telephone you back.  We can also setup live video links to discuss your concerns and also join your conferencing platforms as part of their working day.

Office hours are:

8:30am – 4:30pm Monday to Thursday

8:30am – 4:00pm Friday

 

Business Continuity Phases

 

Phase One: In the event of mandatory civic lockdown or advised to work from home

All Cox & Co. staff will work from home.

  • Telephones will be switched to permanent voice mail.  Voicemail is monitored hourly and staff will respond within 24-48 hours.
  • Postal services will cease.
  • Daily virtual staff meeting will take place at 11:00am weekdays (all staff to attend)
  • Business will continue as normal, however there may be a slight delay in response times.

 

 

Phase Two: In the event of a member of Cox & Co. staff becoming ill

  • If a member of staff becomes ill, they must remain at home and self-isolate for the recommended period.
  • All ‘fit’ staff will continue working from home.   We will keep all clients informed of the situation and whether payroll services will be disrupted.
  • A decision will be made whether the business should move to Phase Three or Four.

 

Phase Three: Cox & Co. experience significant internal outbreak

  • In the event that a member of significant outbreak takes place within Cox & Co. and/or staff are detrimentally affected by self-isolation, we will endeavor to continue to operate business as usual.  However, it may be necessary to reduce our core services and in practice this will be similar to the service we offer during our annual shut down in August every year.
  • Generally, your payroll will continue to be processed in-line with the payroll schedule.  However, there may be a requirement to reduce workloads across the business if a significant proportion of staff are infected with COVID-19.
  • Core payroll services will continue as best as possible using these guidelines:
    • Clients must make a full and complete payroll submission on-time, in accordance with their payroll schedule
    • One payroll run per client will be permitted
    • Late submissions will not be included
    • Missing information will result in delay
    • Telephone support and email correspondence will be triaged.
    • myePayWindow ePayslip delivery will continue as normal
    • Ad-hoc requests will not take place until business resumes to normal
    • Postal services will cease
    • Pension assessments will continue as normal
    • Delays expected to affect:
      • payroll re-runs
      • Ad-hoc questions and un-scheduled workloads
      • BACS processing
      • ePayslip helpdesk for client employees
  • A decision will be made whether Cox & Co. should move directly to Phase Four.

 

Phase Four: Service continuity severely affected

  • Some of Cox & Co.’s services are reliant on the functionality of third party providers and also the availability of its own staff and client employees.  For example, key account managers, payroll submissions from clients, BACS service providers, pension portals, banking institution portals, HMRC government portals etc.
  • In the event of severe depletion of key payroll staff (Cox & Co. and/or client), and/or unavailable services please seriously consider your backup and emergency payroll plans.
  • We highly recommend that you put in place a mechanism and process that will allow you to make payments to staff outside of payroll.  These payments will be treated as advance payments and processed by us when services have resumed.

 

 

What clients can do to reduce risk of service interruption?

It is advised that clients put in place payroll submission backup plans to cover themselves in the event of illness.  For example:

 

  • Who will submit payroll information to Cox & Co. in the event of your absence?
  • What information will be submitted to payroll in the event of your inability to collate the submission?
  • Ensure you are able to access myePayWindow for document transfers when working from home.
  • Provide Cox & Co. emergency contact details for your manager/deputy(s)?
  • Consider putting in place a ‘basic payroll submission/previous month submission’ that Cox & Co can activate in a code red scenario?
  • Do you have special instructions that we should follow in the event that you cannot authorise/approve your BACS instruction?
  • Do you have special instructions in place in case you cannot upload your pension feed by the deadline?
  • Do you have special instructions in place in case you cannot pay HMRC liabilities by the deadline?
    • Can you provide Cox & Co. an emergency plan for your payroll?
    • Can you put in place a standing order to continue payment of payroll services?
  • If your employees receive printed payslips, considering moving to ePayslips to ease distribution.
  • Worst case scenario planning: If your payroll service stopped tomorrow, how will you pay your employees?

 

We greatly appreciate your patience during these unprecedented times and will continue to update you as the situation develops.

Please stay safe and well.

Should you wish to discuss any of the above, please do contact us on enquiries@payrollsolutionsltd.co.uk