Employment Alert – Support package for businesses affected by the Omicron wave

23 Dec 2021

The government have announced a new support package for businesses in light of the impact of the Omicron variant.

What’s happening?

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced a new support package for businesses that have been adversely impacted by the latest COVID surge caused by the Omicron variant.

Why is this important?

The support package will provide:

  1. One-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England. In addition, discretionary funding of over £100 million will be made available to local authorities to support other businesses. 

    It has been reported that the hospitality and leisure sectors are experiencing a substantial decline in business in the run-up to Christmas due to the spread of the Omicron variant. These one-off grants are intended to assist such businesses until the spread of the new variant is under control.

    Local authorities will have the discretion to allocate the additional £100 million funding to businesses most in need.

  2. The reintroduction of the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Rebate Scheme (which ended on 30 September 2021). 

    The Rebate Scheme is intended to assist businesses with fewer than 250 employees by reimbursing them for the cost of SSP for COVID-related absences for up to two weeks per employee. Firms are eligible for the Rebate Scheme from 21 December 2021 and will be able to make claims retrospectively from mid-January.

  3. Further funding of £30 million through the Culture Recovery Fund, enabling more cultural organisations in England to apply for support during the winter. 

    The funding is to support organisations such as theatres, orchestras and museums through the winter until March 2022.

What should you do?

  1. Check whether your business is eligible for the support package. The Government has provided factsheets on the New Business Grants and the SSP Rebate Scheme. We expect further information will follow in due course.
  2. Undertake a review of any employees on sickness absence from 21 December 2021 onwards. Establish if you are entitled to reclaim SSP if paid and what evidence you may need to make the claim. Don’t forget – you may still be required to pay contractual sick pay.

If you need more information please contact us on 0800 2800 421 or email Employment.Alert@trethowans.com to find out how we can help.

Author

Kira McKane

Solicitor