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COVID-19: Latest information for recruiters

Covid-19

This page contains everything we know so far about COVID-19, including daily updates, and a timeline of the REC's response to the coronavirus.  

REC has been appointed as one of the Government's Business Representative Organisations to support the national response to Coronavirus, ensuring that recruitment's voice is heard in the key debates. Help us understand the issues that are most urgent to your business via this survey or by emailing covidsupport@rec.uk.com. We'll be taking your questions and feedback directly to Ministers.


Latest guidance from our legal team

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for Furloughed Workers - FAQs

V8: 15 June 2020

We have updated the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for Furloughed Workers document to reflect the government's latest announcements regarding the scheme.

Download now

COVID-19: Essential business lessons for recruitment leaders

We've curated over 35 hours of webinars and podcasts featuring industry experts to bring you the big business lessons COVID-19 has taught us. Get your free copy of the digital guide here.

What you need to know

Everything we know so far about the impact of coronavirus on the recruitment industry.

Annual leave
  • (27.03.20) Due to Coronavirus, the government is relaxing the rules on holiday leave. Workers will be able to carry over any unused statutory annual leave into the next two leave years. The government will amend the Working Time Regulations 1998 to reflect this. 

  • As a reminder, almost all workers are entitled to 28 days statutory annual holiday including bank holidays each year. Usually, the majority of the 28 days cannot be carried between leave years - this means a worker would lose their untaken holiday if they don't take it in the relevant leave year. The change to allow a carry-over for two years will ensure workers don’t lose their leave entitlements and gives flexibility to business.

    Read the government guidance for more information.on.
Coronavirus Bill
Coronavirus testing
  • (29.04.20) Coronavirus tests will be made available to all essential workers in England and members of their households who are showing symptoms of coronavirus, the government has announced. 

    Recruiters wishing to order tests for their workers must first register and refer self-isolating workers to the government testing page. From tomorrow, workers will be able to book a test for themselves or members of their household who are experiencing symptoms – a high temperature or new continuous cough.

    While there is no definite list of workers that are are included in the essential worker category, the government has highlighted the following as eligible:
    • NHS and care staff
    • teachers
    • hospital cleaners
    • public servants
    • the emergency services
    • supermarket staff
    • delivery drivers 
    • critical infrastructure staff 
DBS checks
  • (01.04.20) The Home Office and the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) have put temporary arrangements in place, to provide DBS checks and fast-track emergency checks of the Adults’ and Children’s Barred Lists free-of-charge. This will apply to healthcare and social care workers being recruited in connection with the provision of care and treatment of coronavirus in England and Wales, including some of those who have volunteered to help the NHS - find out more.
     

  • (30.03.20) Disclosure Scotland have announced that they are no longer accepting paper applications as of today 
     

  • (23.03.20) Update from our legal team: Coronavirus Bill, Furlough payments, DBS ID checks, Right to work checks, REC Audited Education/ CCS
     

  • (23.03.20) Following significant pressure from REC and others, DBS have changed their advice on ID checks.

Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate
  • (30.03.20) Letter from EASI regarding their approach to enforcement for the recruitment industry during the Coronavirus crisis. The REC is working to ensure EAS is aware of what support and information REC members need to work through these challenging times.
Financial support for your business
  • (15.05.20) The government has announced that it will temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance. This move will support supply chains and help businesses to trade with confidence as they can trust that they will be protected if a customer defaults on payment. More information on the guarantee can be found here.
     

  • (07.05.20) The Government has announced an additional 5% uplift to the previously announced business grant funds scheme. This discretionary fund of £617million has been set up so local councils can help fund those small businesses previously outside the scope of the scheme. This includes small businesses that rent space in shared offices, industrial units or innovation centres.

    The Government has also announced that the revaluation of business rates will no longer take place in 2021.
     

  • (27.04.20) Government have produced guidance on how to apply for a CV bounce back loan - the scheme will launch on Monday, 4 May. Bounce Back Loans will provide loans of up to £50,000 for small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The loans are backed by 100% guarantee from government, are interest free for the first 12 months and no repayments will be due for the first 12 months. 
     

  • (17.04.20) Companies House has announced a temporary pause to their strike off process to prevent companies being dissolved. Additionally, they have said that companies issued with a late filing penalty due to COVID-19 “will have appeals treated sympathetically."
     

  • (17.04.20) More details have been announced on the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) ahead of its launch on Monday (20 April). All firms with a turnover of more than £45 million will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance, and up to £50 million for firms with a turnover of more than £250 million. This scheme was set up for businesses that do not qualify for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Covid Corporate Financing Facility.
     

  • (17.04.20) Companies House has announced a temporary pause to their strike off process to prevent companies being dissolved. Additionally, they have said that companies issued with a late filing penalty due to COVID-19 “will have appeals treated sympathetically."
     

  • (06.04.20) The government has confirmed that employment businesses are eligible to apply for the business rates retail discount. Recruiters are eligible for the scheme, whether their office is now closed or not. This latest guidance is very welcome - the REC asked for this this relief for employment businesses in a four-point plan submitted to government a few weeks ago.    
     

  • (01.04.20) Government has announced that businesses with VAT due to HMRC between 20 March - 30 June can defer payment until 31 March 2021 - more here.  
     

  • (26.03.20) Government support available for recruitment businesses 
     

  • (23.03.20) The Government support package – REC summary 

Gender pay gap reporting
GLAA / temporary licence scheme
  • (28.05.20) Temporary GLAA licensing scheme suspended from June

    From 1st June the GLAA will no longer be accepting applications for the temporary license scheme and incomplete applications will be cancelled. Temporary licences will expire three months from after they were granted. For more information go here

 

  • (28.04.20) Due to the Covid19 pandemic there has been significant impact on food production and to deal with these difficult circumstances, the GLAA have introduced a temporary licence scheme. This aims to help established employment businesses (who may not have previously operated in the GLAA sector) work with a GLAA licence holder to tackle labour shortages.

    Applications for a temporary licence must be sponsored by an existing GLAA licence holder, who will be expected to carry out due diligence checks in line with licencing standards. The temporary licence holder can supply their workers through their own payroll but to the clients of the GLAA licence holder. This can be seen as a temporary partnership in these unprecedented times.

    The GLAA will consider temporary licence applications after doing a risk assessment. All applications will be subject to risk based checks and the GLAA will aim to process them within 5 working days.

    Further details about the Association of Labour Provider's (ALP) Spare Worker Availability Portal (SWAP), and the Essential Workers Needed Portal (EWNP) available here.

    This arrangement will be in place until 30 June 2020 or whilst there are government restrictions relating to Covid19. For those who want to operate in this sector long term the GLAA are still receiving applications for full licences.

Further information on the temporary licence scheme and how to apply are available here.

ll not require a GLAA licence. The example given by the GLAA is: ‘a business can say to a food factory “have my workers, no charge” on a permanent/temporary basis whilst there is no work for them.’ Find out more.

IR35
Job Retention Scheme
  • (04.06.20) On 29 May 2020, government announced that the Job Retention Scheme will be closed to new entrants from 1 July 2020. Yesterday, the Treasury published a written ministerial statement on the scheme and the self-employed income support scheme. Detailed guidance will be published on 12th June 2020 but for now statement confirms that:
    • From 1 July, employers can bring back their furloughed employees for any amount of time and any shift pattern.
    • Employers can claim the furlough grant for the proportion of the employees’ normal hours they are not working but the employees must be paid for the hours they are working, subject to their employment contract.
    • Employers must report on the hours worked by an employee and the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period under the scheme for furloughed employees.
    • From Wednesday 1 July, there will be no minimum furlough leave period but any furlough arrangement agreed between employer and employee and reported in a claim to HMRC must still cover a period of at least one week.
    • the CJRS will still be closed to new entrants on 30 June, therefore employees furloughed for the first time must be placed on furlough on or before Wednesday 10 June.
    • Employers planning to claim a grant from 1 July must have completed their first claim (for the period ending 30 June) by Friday 31 July.
    • As previously advised, in June and July, nothing will change for employers and the government will continue to pay 80 per cent of people’s salaries. But from August employers must top up the payment so that employees receive 80 per cent of their normal pay, up to a monthly cap of £2,500. In addition, employers must pay Employer NICs and pension contributions. In September employers must also pay 10 per cent of wages to make up 80 per cent total, up to a cap of £2,500. In October, employers’ contribution will increase to Employer NICs and pension contributions and 20 per cent of wages, up to a cap of £2,500.
       
  • (01.06.20) We have updated the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for Furloughed Workers document to reflect the government's latest announcements regarding the scheme.
     
  • (27.05.20) Jobs Retention Scheme: Information for temporary workers - this guide includes all the information to share with temporary workers who are being furloughed under the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme.
     
  • (15.05.20) Extension to the Job Retention Scheme


    The UK Government has announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will continue to operate until the end of October.

    The CJRS will continue as it currently operates until the end of July. Then from August to the end of October, the scheme will continue but with more flexibility introduced. This includes employers being asked to contribute towards the scheme and being able to bring their furloughed employees back to work part time whilst still receiving support from the scheme.

    Employees will continue to receive the same level of overall support until October. This approach will apply across all regions and sectors of the UK economy. Guidance on how this will work in practice has been promised by the end of May by government.
     

  • (13.05.20) Government has now published the long-awaited guidance on holiday pay accrual for temps and the Job Retention Scheme during #COVID19. Find the full guidance here.

    This is the REC’s assessment:

    “It has taken time and effort, but we are really pleased to see this new guidance from the Government. It confirms the status of holiday pay accrual for temps and will hopefully remove the huge cost barrier to higher rates of furlough that many agencies faced before now. It is now clear that holiday pay does not accrue for those temps who are on a contract for services at all. The guidance also confirms for those on contracts of employment, holiday will accrue as per their contracts, treating furlough as the same as a period not on assignment. Any holiday pay that does accrue because of the unique terms of individual agencies, can be reclaimed at 80% under the CJRS. We’ll look at what further steps can be taken to support these firms.

    At long last, this brings the clarity that the REC has been campaigning hard for over the past few weeks.”
     
  • (13.05.20) Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for Furloughed Workers - FAQs. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers starting from 1 March 2020. This document covers the latest announcements from government, plus answers to questions we have recieved via our legal helpline [updated 01.06.20 - find it here.]
     
  • (23.04.20) HMRC have published recordings of their webinars about the Job Retention Scheme.
     
  • (22.04.20) We have updated the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for Furloughed Workers document to reflect changes made to the employer guidance by the government [updated 01.06.20 - find it here.]
     

  • (21.04.20) We have published new guidance for recruiters using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme [updated 01.06.20 - find it here]. This document provides information about the current government guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the REC’s recruitment-specific guidance. We have reproduced HMRC’s 'Work out 80% of your employees' wages to claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme' guidance in section 1 and added additional comments in section 2.
  • (20.04.20) The online portal for employers to claim from JRS is open from today.

    Ahead of this, on 17 April the Government updated the Claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance (now on the fifth version) and published the first Work out 80% of your employees' wages to claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Employer Step-by-step guide to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The government also published the Treasury Direction to HMRC on 15 April, which provides the rules relating to the Scheme.

    The ‘Work out’ guidance now includes information that REC members have been asking for and that the REC has been lobbying government to provide.

    In particular the guidance provides:
    • There will be an online calculator to help employers calculate the furlough payments

    • Detailed information with examples of how to calculate furlough pay for both monthly and weekly paid employees, with fixed and variable pay, which takes  into account whether they have worked a whole year or part year.

    • Holiday accrual/holiday pay

    • Commission payments and other payments – what can/cannot be included in furlough pay.

Steps to take before using the Scheme:

  1. All employers must read the Claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance on GOV.UK to determine whether they are able to use the Scheme.
  2. Read the Work out 80% of your employees' wages to claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in order to calculate what you are able to claim from the Scheme.
  3. Read the Employer Step-by-step guide
  4. Use the calculator: A calculator will be available from 20 April 2020 to assist you in calculating how much you can claim.
  • (17.04.20) The Treasury has issued an announcement that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which initially was due to run until May, will be extended to run until the end of June. 
     
  • (16.04.20) We have updated the Coronavirus Job Retentions Scheme – REC guidance document [updated 01.06.20 - find it here] to reflect changes made to the employer guidance on 15 April by the government and new information about how employers can claim from the Scheme. The key change relates to the dates that employees must be on the employer's payroll in order to be eligible:
    • The qualifying date, when the employee has to have been on the employer's payroll, has changed from 28 February to 19 March 2020. See sections 1.2. and 1.7.
    • We have also added the information HMRC have released on 15 April 2020 for employers about 'how to make a claim'. See section 1.50.
       
  • (15.04.20) HMRC has just published the fourth iteration of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
    • Key update - who can claim: Employers who created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19 March 2020 – previously it had to have been started on or before 28 February 2020.
    • Key update - who is eligible: PAYE employees (including agency workers) on an employer’s PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020, as long as the employer has sent HMRC and RTI submission notifying payment in respect of the employee on or before 19 March 2020.
       
  • (10.04.20) Government have published version 3 of the Job Retention Scheme guidance. Many members have been asking for clarity on holiday pay for furloughed temps - but that is still not addressed by this update, so we will continue our campaign efforts on behalf of the industry. What has been clarified is:

    • the worker cannot work for a business linked to that employer while on furlough.
    • the amounts of NI and pension contributions that are reclaimable are on the furlough salary, not the usual full salary.
    • there can be no fees or admin charges deducted from the furlough amount before it is passed on to the worker.
    • an employer can switch someone between sick pay and furlough as required - but with a clear caveat that this should not be misused to top up SSP.
    • you can furlough someone on a visa, and this will not be considered an abuse of the rules that prevent someone on a visa from receiving public funds.
    • the new employer can furlough someone who has been TUPE'd - if the business succession rules of TUPE or PAYE apply.
       
  • (09.04.20) HMRC have announced that they expect the online system for claiming under the Job Retention Scheme to go live on 20 April.
     
  • (07.04.20) We have updated the these template documents following government guidance over the weekend (available to REC members):  
  • (06.04.20) The REC legal team have updated our Guide to the Job Retention Scheme for Furloughed Workers [updated 01.06.20 - find it here]. This guide includes an FAQ section based on questions we are receiving to the legal helpline.
     
  • (04.04.20) Government has updated the guidance on the Job Retention Scheme. Our analysis will be available early next week. 
     
  • (03.04.20) The REC legal team have updated our Guide to the Job Retention Scheme for Furloughed Workers to reflect the latest information on holiday pay [updated 01.06.20 - find it here]. This guide includes an FAQ section based on questions we are receiving to the legal helpline.
     
  • (01.04.20) We have released new documents to help recruiters understand the Job Retention Scheme. Our new guide is available to all and covers what we know about the scheme so far, plus an FAQ section based on questions we are receiving to the legal helpline [updated 01.06.20 - find it here.]
         
  • (01.04.20) New template documents are available to REC members [updated 07.04.20]:  
  1. Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme documents for agency workers
  2. Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme documents for employees
Key workers
  • (23.03.20) Use our template letter to help your temps understand confirm their status as a key worker
     
  • (19.03.20) Government have announced their list of key workers
Parental/adoption leave
  • (29.04.20) We’ve received confirmation that furloughed workers planning to take paid parental or adoption leave will be entitled to pay based on their usual earnings rather than a furloughed pay rate. More information can be found online here.
Pensions

(06.05.20) - The Pension Regulator (TPR) have published new Covid-19 guidance for employers, including information on automatic enrollment and how to calculate pension contribution where a salary sacrifice arrangement is in place. The guidance urges employers to pay their pension contributions on time where they can, however it makes it clear that there is support for struggling business. For instance, there has been an extension to the period in which pension providers must report payment failures, from 90 days to 150 days, to give trustees and providers more time to work with employers to bring payments up to date. The TPR have told us  they will continually review and update their guidance to respond to challenges as they unfold. 

Recovery plans and reopening businesses
  • (05.06.20) Client and agency health and safety guidance for agency workers
     

    As some of the earlier lockdown measures are eased and businesses and organisations are returning to work, there many questions about how to manage health and safety issues relating to coronavirus. The government is producing regularly updated guidance. We have put together a summary of the requirements reflecting joint obligations that client and agencies have, to ensure the health and safety of agency workers.

    (15.05.20) - UK’s strategy for ending the lockdown

    The UK Government has published Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy. This sets out a three-phase strategy for easing the lockdown, with a timetable dependent on success in controlling the spread of the virus. Within this there are three steps:
     
    • Step one from 11 May: Encouraging people back to their workplaces if they cannot work from home.
    • Step two from 1 June at the earliest: Phased return of school children and shops.
    • Step three from 4 July at the earliest: Reopen parts of the hospitality industry and other ‘public places.’

This strategy mostly applies only in England. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have their own powers to set and lift restrictions at different rates. They are all currently maintaining the first stage of the lockdown and the phrase ‘Stay At Home.’

  • Scotland - the lockdown has been extended to 28 May, the Scottish Government has published a framework for the next steps of their response.
  • Northern Ireland – The lockdown will also be reviewed on 28 May. The Northern Irish Executive has published a five stage plan for easing the lockdown, without a timetable.
  • Wales – announced on 8 May that the lockdown in Wales will be extended for a further 3 weeks. As with Scotland, the Welsh Government has published a framework for recovery.

 

  • Guidance to reopen offices

    The UK Government has published guidance for employers to help them reopen and operate their workplaces safely. The guidance is broken down according to type of workplace rather than sector, with eight sets of guidelines in total:
  1. Construction and other outdoor work
  2. Factories, plants and warehouses
  3. Labs and research facilities
  4. Offices and contact centres
  5. Other people's homes
  6. Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery
  7. Shops and branches
  8. Vehicles

It sets out practical steps for businesses focused on five key points:

  1. Work from home if you can
  2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment in consultation with workers or trade unions
  3. Maintain 2 meters social distancing wherever possible
  4. Where people cannot be 2 meters apart, manage transmission risk
  5. Reinforcing cleaning processes

 ​​​

Rent for commercial tenants
Right to work checks
  • (31.03.20) The government has announced temporary adjustments to right to work checks, making it easier for employers to recruit during the COVID-19 outbreak. As of today recruiters can: 
    • carry out checks over video call
    • accept scanned documents or photos of documents as evidence
    • use the Home Office Employer Checking Service if a prospective/existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted documents

These temporary changes take into consideration the challenges of recruiting remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak: 

  • New right to work steps for recruiters 
  1. Ask the worker to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app
  2. Arrange a video call with the worker – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents
  3. Record the date you made the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19

Recruiters can also use the online right to work checking service- while doing a video call, if the worker has a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or status under the EU Settlement Scheme. Applicants must first give permission for their details to be viewed.

It is unknown as to how long these adjustments will be valid until, however government says it will give employers advance warning. After which, the original checking process set out in right to work checks: an employer’s guide, will resume.

Further information available here.

  • (23.03.20) Update from our legal team Coronavirus Bill, Furlough payments, DBS ID checks, Right to work checks, REC Audited Education/ CCS
Statutory Sick Pay
  • (28.05.20) The government has extended the scope of individuals who will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Now  under The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020, individuals who have been told to isolate under the new 'Test and Trace' system, will be eligible to claim SSP. 

    See our latest guidance on Statutory Sick Pay related to Coronavirus
     
  • (27.05.20) Covid-19 SSP rebate scheme now open for application

    The government's Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rebate scheme is now open for applications. The scheme announced by the Chancellor in March is designed to support support small and medium-sized employers with additional SSP costs due to COVID-19. To get the rebate, employers need to go to gov.uk and to make a claim for their employee. After making the claim employers should receive the money within six working days.
     
  • (19.05.20) The government has released the go-live date and guidance relating to the SSP reclaim scheme.

    This document covers everything we know so far about the SSP reclaim scheme: Statutory Sick Pay related to Coronavirus [update 28.05.20 - find it here]
     
  • (20.04.20) Statutory Sick Pay Update – ‘Shielding’ employees are entitled to SSP.

    On 16 April, the SSP provisions were updated to include individuals who are unable to work because they are following the official ‘shielding’ guidance because they are at high risk in relation to coronavirus due to underlying health conditions.

    Anyone who has received written notification to follow the shielding public health guidance issued by Public Health England,  the Scottish Ministers or Public Health Wales National Health Service Trust will be eligible for SSP if they meet the remaining qualifying criteria. 

    We have updated our guidance to reflect this change: Statutory Sick Pay related to Coronavirus [update 28.05.20 - find it here]
     
  • (31.03.20) New REC guide: Statutory Sick Pay related to Coronavirus [update 28.05.20 - find it here]
  • (23.03.20) The Coronavirus Bill and the government’s job retention proposals
     
  • (20.03.20) Online fit notes for coronavirus absence - people unable to work for more than seven days because of coronavirus (COVID-19) can obtain an isolation note through a new online service on the gov.uk website
     
  • (19.03.20) REC Podcast: Neil Carberry and our Head of Legal Support, Lorraine Laryea, discuss Statutory Sick Pay, staff wellbeing and working from home
     
  • (18.03.20) Update from our legal team  Coronavirus Bill, SSP, IR35 delay
     
  • (09.03.20) Statutory Sick Pay, a brief video guide
     
  • Further REC legal guidance on SSP
Support for the self-employed
  • (15.05.20) The government has now formally launched the self employment income support scheme (SEISS) for self employed individuals. Self employed workers can check online to find out if they are eligible to make a claim. Your tax agent or adviser can also check your eligibility on your behalf, using  your Self Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number and National Insurance number. 
     
  • (24.03.20) Update from our legal team Furloughed workers, Payments for the sel