Visit the Covid19 hub on this site for further information and advice

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Businesses and Employers Bulletin 

20 March 2020

Please visit the guidance for employees, employers and businesses which is being updated regularly with the latest advice.

Economic Response

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced a package of support to help workers, in addition to the package set out for business:

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. Employers will need to:

Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify employees of this change. Changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation; and

Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal. HMRC will set out further details on the information required.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers. If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.

Deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. 

The deferral will apply from today until the end of June. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020-21 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.

Income Tax Self-Assessment payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

HMRC Time to Pay

HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities. You can contact HMRC’s dedicated Covid-19 helpline to get practical help and advice. This can be reached by calling 0800 0159 559

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch early next week to support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free.

Business closures to reduce social gathering 

Government has asked that all cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants are to close on Friday 20 March. They can continue to provide take-out services. Nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres should also close on Friday 20 March. This situation will be reviewed each month.

New Updates and Guidance

Closure of schools and care for the children of critical workers

Information for parents and carers about the closure of schools and other educational settings has been published. Children of workers who form a central part of effort to respond to the virus – such as NHS workers, police and delivery drivers – will continue to attend school, college or childcare provider. A full list of critical workers and further information is available.

Further details on exams and grades announced

Further details on arrangements for exams which have been cancelled to fight spread of coronavirus has been produced by the Department for Education.

Providing proof of coronavirus absence from work

People unable to work for more than seven days because of coronavirus (COVID-19) can obtain an isolation note through a new online service.

Guidance posters for staff, employers and businesses 

Public Health England have produced guidance posters that should be downloaded, printed and displayed in the workplace for Employers and businesses.

The Department for International Trade’s Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) has issued two Notices to Exporters concerning the impact on training and licensing activities. For general export control queries please contact ECJU’s Helpline on 020 7215 4594 or

COVID 19 – Specific Advice and Guidance

Latest BEIS advice (March 20 2020) provides links for further guidance about coronavirus (COVID-19) for health professionals and other organisations can be found at

The page delivers specific guidance for non-clinical settings on:

– cleaning of non-healthcare settings

– guidance for educational settings

– guidance for employees, employers and businesses

– guidance for mass gatherings

– guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people

– guidance for staff in the transport sector

– Advice for the freight transport industry

Coronavirus (COVID-19): scientific evidence supporting the UK government response

The Government Office for Science has published new information on the national and global response to the spread of COVID-19 continues to develop quickly and our collective knowledge of the virus is growing by the second. You can find that information here.

Request for Business Intelligence

The Government is closely monitoring developments in relation to potential economic impacts on the UK economy and individual businesses and supply chain. We welcome information from businesses on:

– The impacts across supply, demand and labour markets

– Actions being taken by firms to address these impacts

– Any gaps in the Government response from your perspective 

Please send your intelligence to  We are aware that individual company information may be commercially sensitive, and it will be treated accordingly.  Please note that this inbox is only for receiving intelligence only and does not provide business advice.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Business Intelligence and Readiness Directorate 

20 March 2020