Coronavirus Updates

Last updated: Monday 11 May 2020

All of the information contained in this page was correct at the time of publishing.

Latest update

People Group continue to work remotely, with no staff in our head office. The best ways to get in touch are by email or if you are a registered contractor, by using the webchat on your portal.

You are probably aware that we have furloughed and paid many of our contractors right from the start on 03 April and we continue to make payments in line with government guidance.

Any contractors who are unsure of their current status with regards to the Job Retention Scheme we ask to please contact us so that we can investigate further.

To stay up-to-date please either bookmark our news page or sign up for regular updates.

Our Business

As of Tuesday 24 March, our staff are now working from home as per government guidance. As a result of this, our phone lines will not be operational and we encourage you to use email or webchat to get in touch.

hello@peoplegroupservices.com

Please note that our opening times have changed temporarily and we will be open for enquiries from 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday.

People Group Services will constantly monitor the latest advice from government with reference to actions required for Coronavirus.

Check this page regularly for updates.

Contingency Plans

We have tested our contingency plans so that should the situation require, we are able to operate remotely without any impact on our day to day running.

Therefore, in the instance that our premises need to close, we will ensure continuity of service for our recruitment agencies and contractors. However, there may be slightly more reliance on digital communication, such as email, rather than landline phone calls.

As of Tuesday 24 March all of our staff are working from home as per government guidelines. Therefore we reiterate, to contact us as far as possible via email or webchat.

Agency Update

Job Retention Scheme extended until June

(Added Friday 17 April)

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a 1 month extension to the Treasury’s Job Retention Scheme which pays workers 80% of their salary up to £2500 a month. This now continues until the end of June.

You can read the full government update here

Updated guidance for businesses on claiming employees’ wages

(Added Friday 17 April)

Read the government guidance here

Job Retention Scheme Update

(Added Tuesday 07 April)

We successfully made updated payments to umbrella contractors for 6am yesterday morning following initial furlough payroll on Friday 03 April. We continue to work closely with our agencies and contractors to ensure eligible workers are paid in line with updated guidance.

Further detail can be found in our Press Release.

Job Retention Scheme

(Added Wednesday 01 April)

All of our active agencies should have received communication from People Group regarding the Job Retention Scheme and the actions required to enable People Group to implement this when additional guidance is provided.

If you are an agency with contractors being paid by People Group and you have not received our communication please contact us as soon as possible.

If we have not received your agreement that your contractors should be placed on furlough leave – they will not be eligible for payment.

clientcare@peoplegroupservices.com

FCSA UPDATE – Unfair pay for Umbrella workers. Read more

APSCo – Guidance for Umbrella. Read more

VAT Update

(added Tuesday 24 March)

We’ve had a few agencies asking questions about VAT in the current climate. While there has been a change, we need to clarify the situation.

VAT between businesses remains unchanged and has not been turned off.

It is simply the fact that when a business submits its own quarterly VAT return to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) it doesn’t then have to make that VAT payment.

There is no authority to hold back the VAT element of an invoice between suppliers / businesses.

Check on Gov.uk

We are happy to discuss ways to significantly and permanently reduce the VAT paid to umbrella companies. Contact us

Contractor Update

Job Retention Scheme

(Added Tuesday 07 April 2020)

Additional payments to our umbrella contractors were made by 6am Monday morning; recalculated based on updated government guidance. Please see the Press Release for additional detail.

We continue to work closely with all parties to deliver payroll to affected workers.

Please continue to check your online portal for updates.

(Update from Friday 03 April 2020)

We have successfully processed our first payroll to those contractors who qualified to be placed into a furloughed status under the job retention scheme.

This was not easy considering the ever moving goalposts and the commitment required by all parties concerned, the end client, the agency, the contractor and People Group Services. There will be more to come but we have done what we could  in the very short time frame.

If you have been furloughed and paid today but are wondering how your pay was calculated please refer to this document for assistance.

Paid by the Peo/PAYE solution  https://peoplegroupservices.com//wp-content/uploads/2020/04/PGS-Furloughed-Pay-Calculations-PAYEPEO.pdf

(As of Saturday 04 April 2020, all furlough pay calculations are now based on our PEO example as per updated government guidance.)

(Added Wednesday 01 April)

As soon as we are able to implement the process to ensure those who genuinely qualify under the Job Retention Scheme and the calculation of what is expected to be paid has been agreed, we will contact you. However, the guidance is currently unclear and subject to challenge on a number of points.  People Group are funding this before receipt of the government reimbursement to ensure our contractors can continue to be paid. We must get it right and adhere to the guidelines to ensure we do not breach the guidance and jeopordise any funding.

In the meantime, The Freelancer & Contractor Services Association are asking for umbrella contractors to contact their MP to highlight the disparity in pay between ‘Umbrella’ workers with those doing the same job under different pay arrangements. You can ACT NOW by reading more here.

Teaching supply staff FAQ

(added Tuesday 24 March)

View the answers to our most frequent asked questions here.

Support for the self-employed

(added Tuesday 24 March)

Taken from https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-01/0122/amend/coronavirus_daily_cwh_0320rev.14-18.html

View the excerpt below:

Committee of the whole House: 23 March 2020 Coronavirus Bill, continued - “Statutory self-employment pay”
  1. The Secretary of State must, by regulations, introduce a scheme of Statutory Self-Employment Pay.
  2. The scheme must make provision for payments to be made out of public funds to individuals who are: (a) self-employed, or (b) freelancers.
  3. The payments to be made in subsection (2) are to be set so that the net monthly earnings of an individual   specified in subsection (2) do not fall below— (i) 80 per cent of their monthly net earnings, averaged over the last three years, or (ii) £2,917 whichever is lower.
  4. No payment to be made under subsection (2) shall exceed £2,917 per month.
  5. A statutory instrument containing regulations under this section is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
Member’s explanatory statement The purpose of this amendment is to make the Government ‘top up’ self-employed workers’ earnings to the lower of 80% of their net monthly earnings averaged over three years, or £2,917 a month.

Pay expectations

(added Monday 23 March)

People Group Services will constantly monitor the latest advice from government with reference to actions required for Coronavirus.

We are aware of the government’s pledge to cover 80% of salaries. We are striving to secure this funding in what is very much unchartered waters. So far we have very little information other than what is available on web pages.

Rest assured we are doing everything we can. In the meantime if you have been working then please gather the information that we would require to present to apply for the funding of your wages. Please only collate this information in the first instance and do not send it into us.

An assignment schedule must have the following detail to enable us to prove you are working for any application of funding under the ‘furloughed’ worker scheme.

  • Place of work/assignment location
  • Job role/position
  • Daily/hourly rate of pay
  • Start and end date of assignment

We will update this information as more detail becomes available to us.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) update

(added Friday 20 March)

Following increased government action on Friday 20th March 2020, our guidance on SSP has been updated below.

A very high proportion of our agency partners work within the education sector, so this will have a significant impact on us too.

Self-isolation and sickness

(added Thursday 19 March)

Contractors who are in self-isolation because of personal sickness or sickness in the household may be entitled to SSP. However, in order for claims to be accepted they MUST be accompanied by a valid assignment schedule as proof of upcoming work.

Individuals can self-certify for 7 days and may have up to 14 days with an NHS 111 certificate.

Once the duration of the assignment schedule is completed then contractors will no longer be eligible to claim SSP and must seek universal credit instead (link below).

School Closures

(added Thursday 19 March)

With all schools in England set to close to the vast majority of students on Friday 20th March, contractors who find themselves without work will unfortunately not be entitled to claim SSP.

Instead, they should apply for universal credit on the link below:

https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

We understand that for some people this presents a difficult situation. With advice changing all the time we will endeavour to stay updated and continue to provide guidance and assistance where possible. We are continuing to service our customers so please get in touch on email, phone or webchat if you have any questions. Our phone lines are very busy, so please do also consider email and webchat.

clientcare@peoplegroupservices.com

Webchat is available on the contractor portal and our website.

Online Isolation Notes

Isolation notes will provide employees with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate due to coronavirus, either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and so cannot work.

For the first seven days off work, employees can self-certify so they don’t need any evidence for their employer. After that, employers may ask for evidence of sickness absence. Where this is related to having symptoms of coronavirus or living with someone who has symptoms, the isolation note can be used to provide evidence of the advice to self-isolate.

The government says the notes can be accessed through the NHS website and NHS 111 online.

According to Matt Hancock, the Health & Social Care Secretary, if an employee does not have an email address, they can have the note sent to a trusted family member or friend, or directly to their employer. The service can also be used to generate an isolation note on behalf of someone else.

What can you do?

We are now into the containment phase of the outbreak. This involves limiting the spread of the virus in order to reduce the number of new cases and allow the NHS to treat the most affected patients. What can you do? Well, the answer is simple. Follow the Government measures closely; this can be as simple as properly washing your hands at every available opportunity, but also involves social distancing and being strict on self-isolation.

Top tips:

  • Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds at a time
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Use a tissue or sleeve to cover coughs and sneezes
  • Stay at least three steps away from other people
  • Avoid close contract with people who are unwell
  • Follow self-isolation guidelines if you or someone you’ve been in contact with shows symptoms of the virus

For more information:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51711227

We will continue to monitor the situation and the advice given and will update accordingly.