Every year, our December blog is a look back on the year but for 2020, it’s hard to know where to start. We don’t think we’ll ever forget this one.

The year started off quite normally really, but it wasn’t long before news stories about the virus started to become more prominent and that it was starting to spread around the world. I don’t think any of us still had any idea about what was in store until, of course, we all went into lockdown in March.

There is no doubt the year has been challenging for us as we have helped our clients deal with all the changes and navigate their way through the government schemes. The complexity of the situation has meant we have actually taken on quite a few new clients and we’re grateful to those who have turned to us for help this year.

Some of our clients have continued without interruption throughout the year and so we have been running their payroll as normal. But even ‘normal’ means dealing with the challenges of having employees working from home or helping those who have had to self-isolate.

Many of our clients have had some or all of their employees on furlough and this has been especially tricky to deal with. We have worked so hard to help them manage the scheme and keep up with the changes, some with very short notice such as the extension of the scheme and increased wage rates at the end of October. We have made sure we’ve been available to answer any questions employers or employees might have had and there’s no doubt that our Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals membership has been invaluable this year and it has meant we’ve always had an accurate and timely source of information and analysis as government announcements have been made.

This week, the BBC reported ONS figures that showed that UK-wide, there were 370,000 redundancies in the three months to October – a record number and with sadly the hospitality sector being the hardest hit. Even though we are Tier 1 and so hospitality venues can remain open, there’s no doubt the closures earlier in the year have had an impact and it has been a distressing part of our job this year to have to help employers manage the effects of redundancy through their payroll. We’ve also been managing Statutory Sick Pay for those employees who did contract the virus or who have had to self-isolate.

So, what do we think 2021 will look like? It’s definitely exciting that the vaccine is here and is starting to be administered but as the NHS will give priority to older people, it will be a while before younger, working age people are vaccinated. Which means the virus will continue to have an impact on us all for a bit longer, as demonstrated by the fact that Chancellor has just extended the furlough scheme for another month until April 2021 and the new Tier 4 level and Christmas restrictions that were announced on Saturday. And we will be social distancing, wearing masks and washing our hands for a good while yet.

For Pixie Payroll, it means that, at least for the first few months, we’ll continue to support all our clients through these difficult times and take some of the stress away by managing all aspects of their payroll efficiently and accurately. But hopefully by the time Christmas 2021 comes around, things will feel a little more like normal.

But in the meantime, we’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a hopeful and happy New Year.