It’s hard to believe it’s the end of November already and that this difficult year is nearly coming to an end. Since we wrote our last blog, there have been more changes to the Coronavirus rules and regulations, with details on the new post-lockdown tier arrangements in England and Christmas restrictions having been announced only this week.

The most profound change was England going back into a lockdown situation on 5th November. We now know that this lockdown will be lifted on 2nd December but at the time it was introduced, it wasn’t at all clear that this would happen.

After the lockdown, Cornwall will be one of the few places in the UK to go into Tier 1 which allows us a bit more freedom in terms of meeting up with people in our homes (although the rule of 6 still applies) and pubs, bars & restaurants being able to open for table service, which we’re sure will be good news for our hospitality clients.

All tier restrictions will be relaxed for 5 days over Christmas with up to 3 households being allowed to gather to celebrate the holiday together.

Furlough and self-employed scheme extensions

Early in November, an extension to the furlough and self-employed scheme was announced but with the new lockdown a few days later, this was extended further. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is now planned to run until the end of March 2021 (although it will be reviewed in January 2021) and will pay 80% of an employee’s salary, just like it did at the beginning of the first lockdown in March this year.

Similarly, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will run until March 2021 and will pay 80% of average profits.

These extensions are a significant change from what was originally planned for the current and following months; in fact it was only on 1st November that a one month extension was announced which was then superseded by the news a few days later. All of this means things have been changing really quickly and it can be hard for employers to keep up.

Tax relief for working from home

Employees who have been working from home since the start of the pandemic may have found that has generated additional costs. From extra tea, coffee and water to higher bills for heating and lighting, especially as we are coming into the colder and darker months, unexpected expenses can be tricky.

Employees are able to claim tax relief of £6 per week or £26 per month provided they haven’t already been reimbursed by their employer. Claims can be made via the government website here and the employee’s tax code is then amended so they will pay less tax on their earnings.

Brexit transition

As well as having to deal with the pandemic, employers and businesses may also be planning for the current Brexit transition arrangements coming to an end on 1st January 2021. So if you employ people who are EU nationals or you send employees to work in the EU, it is important you make plans for the new rules.

All the current information can be found here but it is important to keep checking as things are still changing.

As we say every month, if you have any questions about your payroll or need help navigating the rules and regulations, just get in touch. If you’ve been persevering with managing your payroll yourself this year but now really think you could do with some help, speak to us. We manage all sizes of payroll and can help for as long or as short as you need us to.