More useful guidance to furloughing

To add to the previous information from Jane Merkin. This is a summary of BECTU’s finance webinar with Tony Lennon (Freelance and
Research Officer) and Philippa Childs (Head of BECTU) 31.03.20

BECTU is working incredibly hard on behalf of ALL the self-employed who are falling through the gaps in the Government schemes, but the message from the Treasury has been clear – they are setting a very high bar for any changes to the schemes announced and that the demands should be “proportionate and solutions-based”.

While BECTU has a direct line to the Treasury and are pressing every scenario, their sense is that they won’t achieve everything they demand.

PAYE Employees/Fixed term contracts

1. There has been clarification around the date of 28th February which may have important implications for some – if you were on a company’s payroll, and being paid, on 28th February you are eligible for the Job Retention Scheme. When the Chancellor announced it was widely interpreted that someone had to be contracted on 28th February in order to be eligible to be furloughed. This is not the case. Your contract may have ended earlier, but you need to have been on the payroll on 28th February and paid on or after that date.

2. If your contract has or is due to end AFTER 28th February, you should ask your employer at that time to extend your contract. There is evidence that some employers have done this so you should certainly ask.

3. Should you request this and your employer refuses, if you are a BECTU member (if not, WHY not?!), they will help you in approaching your employer.

4. There have been reports to BECTU that people who have asked to be put back on contract at companies so they can be furloughed are being told that the company will only do so if they vary the terms of the contract. This may be to include a clause that the contract will be terminated when the period of furlough, currently 3 months from 1st March, comes to an end. It is possible that the Government will have to extend this scheme so if your employer requests a variation, ensure that there is no end date but it would be reasonable for your contract to end once JRS is withdrawn.

5. Currently, the BBC has said that it will only furlough people until the natural end of their contract. This only impacts on people employed directly by the BBC.

Sole Traders/Schedule D

1. The deadline for filing your 2018-19 tax return, if you have not already done so, is 23rd April 2020

Limited Companies

1. If you haven’t already, ask your accountant whether you are a PAYE employee of your company. If you are not (and don’t simply assume that you are), then you are excluded from the Job Retention Scheme.

Business Interruption Loan

1. This is applicable to both Sole Traders and Ltd Companies and is for £10,000

2. The loans are available through any bank, subject to the same checks as any other bank loan, so don’t assume that you will automatically receive it.

3. The loan will be 0% for 12 months and thereafter interest will apply.

Universal Credit

People who previously didn’t have access to UC now do, so even if you have applied before and been refused, it is worth applying now.

Any Other Business

If you haven’t already, write to your MP, asking for all workers to be treated equally. It’s important to stress that many of us in the industry are NOT wealthy individuals, and for Ltd Companies, that you are very small and vulnerable.

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