UK payroll and employment taxes

Managing to get people paid on time and account for the right tax and national insurance can be challenging at times like these. We thought we’d help simplify things for you by including here all the frequency asked questions covering payroll and employment related tax information here.

Can I suspend payments for PAYE / NIC?

HMRC has set up a dedicated COVID-19 helplines (0800 024 1222 or 0800 0159 559) to help those in need to discuss and agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement.  HMRC is currently giving many 90 days deferral of tax payments. What is key is communicating with HMRC prior to the tax due date and that the business remains compliant with all its tax filing deadlines. Early action on this is highly recommended.

What support is there from the Government to cover wage costs?

All UK employers can apply to HMRC for reimbursement of up to 80 per cent of workers 'wage costs' up to a cap of £2,500 per for wages payable from 1 March 2020.  It is planned to run for three months but will be extended if necessary.  Employees must still be on the payroll so cannot have been made redundant or laid off. However, if the employee was on the payroll on 28 February 2020 and has been 'let go' since, the employer can still apply for reimbursement.  The scheme is accessed by:

  • designating affected employees as 'furloughed' or retained on paid leave of absence;
  • notifying employees of this change; and
  • submitting information about these employees and their earnings via the new HMRC portal.

It is expected that HMRC’s portal will be running by end of April 2020 so employers may have to bear these wage costs at least until then; however, other financial support may be available.

Read our article on job retention scheme supports business and employees for more information.

Can our employees volunteer under the Emergency Volunteering Leave scheme?

The Coronavirus Act introduces emergency volunteering leave to support health and social care. Workers (in businesses with a headcount of 10 or more), including agency workers can get Government compensation where they suffer loss of earnings through emergency volunteering in health and social care, An emergency volunteer is pre-certified by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care or the local authority to take emergency leave. Travel and subsistence (including vouchers and other benefits) can be paid to those who have acted as emergency volunteers in health and social care even if they have not taken or were not entitled to take formal emergency volunteering leave. 

The volunteering period is one fixed period of 2, 3 or 4 consecutive weeks in the same 16 week period starting when the legislation comes into effect. The worker must notify their employer in writing 3 working days before the start of the proposed emergency volunteering period producing a certificate certifying both that they will be an emergency volunteer and the emergency volunteering period. 

The worker remains employed by their employer during the emergency volunteering period, entitled to all the benefits of their employment, save for remuneration, They must not suffer a detriment by reason of taking emergency volunteering leave in health and social care and, if they are dismissed because of it, they are unfairly dismissed.

What do I need to consider now I suddenly have people working from home?

For many employees this will be their first time working from home on a full-time basis. Now the IT is up and running, and the novelty is starting to wear off, it would be advisable for employers to consider their obligations and how to practically interpret them during these unprecedented times. Find out more about the working from home regulations.

Are National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates still increasing on 1 April 2020? 

Currently, they are, but there has been debate about whether these will be postponed.  The rates change to £8.72 per hour from 1 April 2020 for those 25 and over with lower graduated lower rates below that age. Government has issued a reminder that the NMW continues to apply during the coronavirus crisis.

What about this year's Gender Pay Gap reporting? 

Gender Pay Gap deadlines for this year’s reporting (2019/2020) has now been suspended and there will Global mobility issues be no expectation on employers to report their date. Further information is here.

If an employee can’t use their company car is the benefit still reportable?

What should you do about employees’ company cars during the current lockdown and working from home period? Can you stop the benefit-in-kind for the use of the car? This may be helpful for families or households with a second non-company car, which they could use for essential journeys at this time instead.

The short answer is yes, you can stop the benefit in certain circumstances. But you must exercise caution. We have included some of the practical things to help you consider if this is possible here.

If you would like additional information on the people risks and considerations, please contact