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GUEST ARTICLE: COVID-19 and employee benefits

  • 30 Mar 2020

The following article comes from Alex Smith, head of construction at law firm, Shakespeare Martineau, who talks about Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s most recent announcement regarding financial security for the self-employed during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Finally, the Chancellor has done what the UK construction industry has been crying out for. Those with trading profits up to £50,000 a year will be able to apply for a grant of 80 percent of their average monthly profits, up to £2,500 a month, for three months up to the end of May (and paid in one lump sum in June). The monthly profits will be calculated using average monthly profits over the last three financial years.

“With self-employed workers forming the backbone of the construction sector, this news will come as a huge relief to all those who felt excluded from the Government’s generous support packages so far.

“Government announcements earlier this week stated that those who cannot do their jobs from home should continue to go to work, suggesting that on site construction work should continue, as long as social distancing guidelines were followed. Consequently, sites were to remain open, with social distance guidelines being followed.

“However, those in the construction industry have raised concerns that the economy was being prioritised over public health, with builders and other construction workers feeling unprotected and under pressure to continue working.

“Up until now, the lack of coherent advice from the Government has meant that firms have been left to take matters into their own hands and make business-critical decisions based on ambiguous criteria.

“However, difficulties caused by illness, self-isolation, childcare issues, and the inability to obtain building materials are still forcing more and more sites to close.

“Time will tell as to whether these measures are enough to support the construction industry and exactly who will qualify for such additional support during this unusual time. But for now, at least, many workers will be breathing a sigh of relief.”

 

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