Coronavirus: Chancellor moves to protect employees’ wages
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a package of measures aimed at protecting employees during the coronavirus crisis.
The government will pay 80% of salary for staff who are unable to work but who are kept on by their employer, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month, under what is being called a ‘job retention scheme’.
The wage subsidy will also apply to firms that have already had to make workers redundant due to the coronavirus, so long as they are brought back into the workforce and given a leave of absence instead.
Announcing the plans last week, Sunak said they were “unprecedented measures for unprecedented times”.
The cover for wages will be backdated to the start of March and last for three months but could be extended for longer “if necessary”.
Among other measures announced by the government are:
- Business interruption loans will now be interest free for 12 months, not six months, and will be available from today (23 March 2020)
- Next quarter’s VAT bill payment will be deferred until June; self-assessment is also being deferred
- The self-employed will now be able to access universal credit at the same level as Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Universal credit and housing credit payments will also increase