The application process for the fifth Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant will depend on details of two years of turnover and losses resulting from the pandemic
The scheme is due to open shortly and HMRC will be contacting self employed individuals directly advising them of their eligibility to apply for the scheme, which will be open from late July. There are some rule changes for the fifth grant which are important to take into account and also note that accountants are not allowed to apply directly on behalf of their clients.
HMRC has confirmed that ‘the fifth grant is different. In most cases, you’ll need to provide two turnover figures when you make your claim. We’ll use these to work out how much you’ll get’.
Claims must include information about turnover if you submitted a tax return for your business in 2019 to 2020 as well as any of the following tax years: 2018-19, 2017-18 and 2016-17. Turnover includes the takings, fees, sales or money earned or received by your business.
Turnover must be calculated for a 12-month period, starting on any day from 1 April 2020 to 6 April 2020.
Where to find turnover figures
Turnover figures can be obtained from the 2020-21 self assessment tax return, from accounting software, go through your bookkeeping or spreadsheet records that cover your self-employment invoices and payments received, check the bank account used for your business to account for money coming in from customers, or ask your accountant or tax adviser.
Claims must not include previous SEISS grants, Eat Out to Help Out payments and local authority or devolved administration grants.
In the case of partnerships, work out and include your percentage share of the partnership’s turnover, for each individual partnership. This will be the same as the percentage of profit taken from each partnership in your reference year, even if your profit share percentage changed in 2020 to 2021. You should add this to the turnover from your other businesses.
In most cases, you must use the turnover reported in your 2019 to 2020 tax return as a reference year. The figure needs to be based on a 12-month period and include the total turnover for all your businesses.
If 2019-20 was not a normal year for your business, you can use the turnover reported in your 2018-19 tax return. Your records should show how 2019-20 was not a normal year for you. For example, if you were on carers leave, long term sick leave or had a new child; carried out reservist duties; lost a large contract or are eligible for the fifth grant but did not submit a 2019 to 2020 return.
If your turnover is down by 30% or more, the grant will be:
worked out at 80% of three months’ average trading profits; and
capped at £7,500.
If your turnover is down by less than 30%, the grant will be:
- worked out at 30% of three months’ average trading profits; and
- capped at £2,850.
If you had a total turnover of £20,000 for 2019-20, which fell to £10,000 for April 2020 to April 2021, representing a 50% drop in revenue, you will get the higher grant amount which is worth 80% of three months’ average trading profits as turnover is down by 30% or more.
If turnover is down by 20% compared to 2019-20 you will get the lower grant amount which is worth 30% of three months’ average trading profits as turnover is down by less than 30%.
If 2019-20 was not a normal year for your business, due to the pandemic, SEISS applicants can use 2018-19 as the turnover reference year.
If you are currently trading but have reduced demand, you must keep any evidence that your business has had reduced activity, capacity or demand due to Covid-19 at the time you made your claim, such as:
- business accounts showing reduction in activity compared to previous years;
- records of reduced or cancelled contracts or appointments; and
- a record of dates where you had reduced demand or capacity due to government restrictions.
What is mental health discrimination?
Discrimination in general is when an employer or co-worker treats someone differently based on one of the protected characteristics (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation).
Discrimination due to mental health is a bit more difficult to define because, while mental health isn’t directly a protected characteristic, disability is.
The Equality Act 2010 defines a disabled person as someone with a physical or mental injury. It must be substantial or long term (likely to last more than 12 months) and affect their ability to conduct day-to-day activities.
So for discrimination based on mental health to be unlawful, the mental health issue needs to fit the definition of a disability. The employer also must know — or be reasonably expected to know — about the disability.
If an employee with mental health problems that qualify as a disability is treated differently at work because of their condition, this could be shown to be discriminatory, which could lead to a costly employment tribunal. Discrimination cases have an unlimited fine and no minimum service period for employees, so they can devastate a business.
Types of discrimination
There are six types of disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
- Direct discrimination.
- Discrimination arising from disability.
- Indirect discrimination.
- Failing to comply with the duty to make reasonable adjustments.
Direct and indirect discrimination in mental health
Direct discrimination is where someone treats an employee unfairly because of a protected characteristic.
Discrimination against mental health in the workplace occurs mainly through these forms. They occur from direct treatment or practices that affect employees.
Mental health discrimination may occur, for example, if an organisation does not offer an employee a promotion because they have depression but instead gives the promotion to a colleague who does not have depression — even though they have less experience and fewer qualifications. Or if someone with depression is penalised for taking too much time off sick.
Discrimination by association happens when an employee gets worse treatment because of a connection or association with another person with a disability (eg it is their partner who suffers with mental ill health).
Indirect discrimination occurs where a practice that applies to everyone inadvertently disadvantages someone with a protected characteristic. For example, where an employer only considers those who have a driving licence eligible for promotion even though this is not a key requirement of the job. This may discriminate against people with mental or physical health problems that prevent them from holding a driving licence.
There are times when an employer can justify discrimination against those with a disability, if they can show there was a good reason for this other than merely being cheaper (eg the safety of others) and it was proportionate.
Organisations should re-evaluate all policies to ensure no groups are discriminated against or lose out unfairly. Make sure all your managers and supervisors are trained to recognise discrimination, know how to assess changes to ensure that discrimination does not occur and know what steps to take if it is reported.
Harassment and mental health
The Equality Act 2010 defines harassment as conduct that violates dignity or produces an unpleasant environment. For it to be discrimination, it needs to link to a protected characteristic.
An example of harassment would be if a colleague finds out their colleague has bipolar disorder and makes offensive remarks in the office about being in a manic phase. This can happen in or outside of the workplace, as harassment may begin outside, but the feelings will continue into the workplace.
Organisations should have a policy in place to deal with harassment (see our template Bullying and Harassment Policy), and this should be communicated to all employees. It is also worth considering how to ensure a positive, respectful and supportive work culture.
Victimisation of someone with a mental illness
This is the mistreatment of a person because they are making a complaint about discrimination or harassment.
For example, an employee complains to their employer about disability discrimination. After this, the manager treats them badly because they are seen as a troublemaker or less loyal to the organisation.
Organisations should ensure that management or HR is scrupulously neutral when faced with any such issues. If there has been a complaint or grievance raised, make sure a fair process is followed, and each step is documented. Consider if anything needs to be done to improve work, so that employees feel able to discuss mental health issues in a supportive environment.
Failure to make reasonable adjustments
The Equality Act 2010 requires employers and service providers to make reasonable adjustments if an employee is at a substantial disadvantage compared to other people who do not have a mental health problem. The adjustments — for example, counselling, flexible working hours, a change in duties — should aim to remove any disadvantage suffered but should be realistic in balancing cost, effectiveness and practicality.
Adjustments should be made in consultation with the employee and be specific to their needs. Often a note from the employee’s GP is a good starting point. Otherwise it might be worth getting an occupational health assessment for advice if you have the resources.
Dismissal for mental health issues
It is possible to dismiss an employee fairly if they can no longer carry out their job because of their mental ill health. However, the organisation must first have considered how to make adjustments for and support their employee if the issue qualifies as a disability. Dismissal should be the last resort. This is especially true if it can be argued that the mental health condition has arisen from or been worsened by work-related stress.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out how life will soon return close to normal as he confirmed that social distancing will end, facemasks will no longer be mandatory and there will be no limits on gatherings.
He said that the final step would go ahead as planned on 19 July although this will not be confirmed until 12 July after a review of the latest data.
“If we don’t go ahead now when we’ve clearly done so much with the vaccination programme to break the link… when would we go ahead?”, Mr Johnson asked.
Assuming that there is no late change of plan, limits on social contact will end, meaning there will be no restrictions on indoor or outdoor gatherings. Weddings, funerals and other life events will be able to take place without limits or restrictions.
All venues currently closed will be allowed to reopen, including nightclubs, and there will be no legal requirement for table service in hospitality settings. Limits on named care home visitors will also be lifted.
The powers given to local authorities to enforce rules will expire and large-scale events will not legally require certification.
The one metre plus rule will be lifted other than in specific places such as at the border to help manage the risks of new variants coming into the country.
The guidance to work from home where possible will also end, to allow employers to start planning a safe return to workplaces.
While face coverings will no longer be legally required in shops, schools, hospitality or on public transport, guidance will be in place to suggest where people might choose to wear one.
Speaking at the press conference with the Prime Minister, England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, outlined three scenarios where he would continue to do so.
“The first is any situation which is indoors, crowded, or indoors with close proximity with other people; the second situation I’d do it is if I was required to by any competent authority; and the third reason is if someone else was uncomfortable if I did not wear a mask,” he explained.
Mr Johnson said that people’s personal judgement will now be key in learning to live with the virus.
He also signalled the Government’s intention to move to a new regime whereby fully vaccinated people would no longer need to self-isolate if identified as a contact. Further details will be set out in due course, Mr Johnson said.
Finally, he confirmed that the vaccine rollout will accelerate further, by reducing the vaccine dose interval for under-40s from 12 weeks to eight. This will mean every adult has the chance to have two doses by mid-September.
As the warmer months are now upon us, and people start looking to the skies for some summer sunshine, employers may begin worrying about how to keep their workforce operating efficiently during this time. Below, we take a look at some of the key summer issues for employers and how to manage these effectively.
Managing holiday leave
With most employees looking to take a significant part of their annual leave during the summer months, the holiday diary may look a little busier than normal. Where employees have requested holiday in line with the internal holiday policy, and this has been previously approved, the key requirement for employers is to ensure holidays are managed properly.
It will be important for managers to plan for upcoming holidays and manage an employee’s workload while they’re on leave. If someone is covering the role, it will be essential for a smooth handover so that the covering employee understands what is required and feels comfortable with undertaking this work. Additional time should be planned in for a handover to be completed on the employee’s return, rather than expecting them to get straight back into their work without understanding what has happened in their absence. This will help to prevent important tasks being missed or follow-up tasks falling by the wayside.
Where conflicting leave requests are received, or a request cannot be approved in line with the internal policy, for example where the maximum amount of employees are already booked off, then managers should respond to the request in a timely manner confirming that this is refused. Explaining the reasons why, and referring to the holiday policy and the rules set out within this, will help to limit any potential issues regarding this decision.
Dealing with family emergencies
As extensive childcare arrangements are put in place by working parents, there is a greater likelihood that time off may be required where these arrangements break down. Managers need to understand the right to time off for dependants, a statutory right for unpaid leave to deal with emergency situations concerning their dependants, and how their internal policy applies to this time.
The law requires employees to contact their employer as soon as reasonably practicable to alert them to their time off, the reason for this and how long they believe will be needed. Recording this leave accurately will be crucial to ensure there is no detriment suffered by employees because they have exercised their right to this time off. Generally, time off for dependants will provide unpaid time off of one or two days as this will be the time needed to handle the emergency, although this will depend on the circumstances; therefore any additional time off will need to be discussed and agreed with the employee, such as taking short notice holiday or unpaid leave.
Summer dress codes
Once the temperatures start creeping up, the issue of formal dress codes is inevitably raised. While a suit and tie may be comfortable during the cooler months, commuting in professional attire and spending long days in a warmer office can result in employees challenging the normal clothing standards. If staff are uncomfortable this could have a detrimental impact on morale and productivity.
It is a business decision for employers to decide whether they will relax normal dress policies or introduce a stand-alone summer dress code that contains different rules. The overall aim behind the code itself will need to be maintained, such as having a professional image for customers or meeting brand requirements. Matters to consider include avoiding more stringent requirements on employees of one gender as this could be discriminatory on the grounds of sex, while health and safety requirements including appropriate footwear will need to be maintained. Including employees in the process to decide summer dress requirements can help employers introduce a policy which meets their needs and will be applied positively by the workforce.
Where the normal dress code is retained, managers should continue to enforce this. This means breaches of the code will be addressed, usually under the disciplinary procedure as an act of misconduct, with disciplinary sanctions imposed as are reasonable. Although this may cause employees to become disgruntled, failing to impose the policy during summertime could lead to issues of fairness and reasonableness when managers seek to enforce the rules at different times of the year.
The most uttered question on warmer days is usually “how hot does it have to be before I can be sent home?” There is no maximum workplace temperature set in UK legislation, although health and safety laws say that temperatures should remain reasonable based on the type of workplace and activities carried out. Therefore, indoor office temperatures will be classed as reasonable at a higher temperature than for those carrying out physical activities outdoors.
To ensure staff feel comfortable and their productivity is not being detrimentally affected by a warmer workplace, employers can proactively review their workplace temperatures to ensure these remain suitable for most employees. A simple complaint about overheating may lead to a formal grievance if this is not managed properly.
Warmer temperatures may affect some staff more than others. For example, women going through the menopause who may already be suffering with hot flushes may find their symptoms exacerbated by the hot weather. If a complaint is raised about overheating, it would be prudent to discuss this with the employee in confidence to see if any further support is needed.
Take steps to review air conditioning or cooling systems to ensure these are operating properly and, where possible, to resolve issues and evaluate whether individual measures, such as the provision of desk fans, may need to be taken.
With blue sky dazzling outside the office window, keeping employees on task and efficient can be hard work in summer.
Ensuring all employees are aware of their tasklists and any relevant deadlines will provide transparency over what is required of them. In addition, regular catch ups or meetings can help to check whether employees are on track and, if not, whether there are any issues which need managing. Certain workplaces may introduce incentives to have an element of competition and challenge around maintaining high work rates, in order to win an individual or team prize.
Showing employees that they are valued for their hard work is effective people management at any time, but can be especially welcomed during summer when they may be covering for others due to high levels of leave. Small acts, such as ice creams, cool drinks or early finishes to enjoy the summer sunshine, will show employees that their hard work is recognised and valued, helping keep them engaged and productive during this time.