COVID-19 30 March 2020


The following BMF coronavirus bulletin, sent on 30 March 2020, will help your business to understand the following:

- The latest information and insight available
- The support available for your business

The following BMF COVID-19 bulletin, contains the following:

- Specific information for BMF members 
- UK Government advice, actions and announcements   

Reminder we have suspended BMF Business News whilst we are sending out our COVID-19 bulletins to members. If you have any suggestions for further topics and information you want included and covered in these bulletins, please email richard.ellithorne@bmf.org.uk.

BMF COVID-19 online hub

In response to the COVID-19 situation, we have created an online hub of information for you to refer to. This sets out the BMF position and what we are doing for our members at this time. The page feature video updates, from John Newcomb CEO  that will be posted regularly along with the information many of our members have been wanting. There are also opportunities for you to share experiences and insight, so we can all work together to get the best outcomes we can during this time. 

To view the first BMF video briefing, visit the COVID-19 page by clicking here.

BMF members information

Halborns have created a bespoke, two-tier approach to support you with the employment law implications of the current crisis and Job Retention Scheme. Their ‘starter’ and ‘complete’ kits provide a great range of support depending on your individual needs; whether you require the essentials and a small amount of guidance, or more comprehensive support with the option for hands on, in-person guidance. Halborns’ flexible approach means they can tailor any of their support to your specific requirements.

In terms of the specific coronavirus related documents, they’re extremely comprehensive and in-line with the most up to date government guidance and information available.

- Coronavirus policy – clear guidance for employees and employers on managing work during the outbreak
- Job Retention Scheme Q&A – 40 detailed questions dealing with furlough, approaches to reaching agreement and other employment laws that impact on furloughing
- Template letter for furloughed employees – ensuring members are communicating the required information in a concise, compliant and empathetic tone (includes a distilled version of the Q&A to answer most employee’s concerns)

Each package includes all future updates to these documents, which will reduce the time and effort your need to spend keeping up to date with the latest guidance. When things change, Halborns will be the first to let your know. Halborns are working around the clock to keep on top of the employment law implications so they’re able to help support and put you in the best position possible despite these uncertain times.

Halborns continues to provide free daily practical insights to guide you through the latest developments, as well as adding lay-off templates and 15 ways to avoid redundancy to their comprehensive Intelligent Employment Plus service. If you’ve not been receiving their updates, let them know here.

To provide even more flexibility, Halborns has extended their usual 14 day credits terms to 30 (or more on agreement with Halborns), and have added an additional lawyer to help support with demand.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Businesses and Employers Bulletin 


This bulletin provides information for employers and businesses on Coronavirus (COVID-19). All guidance, information and announcements can be found at GOV.UK.  Organisations should pay particular attention to the guidance for employees, employers and businesses which is being updated regularly with the latest advice.

The UK Government is supporting businesses and their employees through a package of measures during this period of unprecedented disruption. The Business Support website helps businesses find the right support, advice and information to help with the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the support measures that are available. This website will continue to be updated as information becomes available. Some aspects of business support are devolved. Specific information for businesses and employers in Northern IrelandScotland, and Wales  is available.

Contents


- Government amends insolvency law to help companies keep trading while they explore options for rescue
- Government to ease regulations to ensure hand sanitiser and personal protective equipment reaches NHS staff more quickly 
- Further details of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme announced
- Requests for Business Intelligence and Assistance

Government amends insolvency law to help companies keep trading while they explore options for rescue


Under the plans, the UK’s Insolvency Framework will add new restructuring tools that mirror the USA’s Chapter 11 procedure, a well-established model adopted by countries around the world. This includes:

- A moratorium for companies giving them breathing space for from creditors enforcing their debts for a period of time whilst they seek a rescue or restructure;
- Protection of their supplies to enable them to continue trading during the moratorium; and;
- A new restructuring plan, binding creditors to that plan

The proposals will also include key safeguards for creditors and suppliers to ensure they are paid, while existing laws against fraudulent trading and the threat of director disqualification will continue to act as an effective deterrent against reckless misuse of these new measures.

Wrongful trading provisions


The Government will also temporarily suspend the wrongful trading provisions to give company directors greater confidence to use their best endeavours to continue to trade during this pandemic emergency, without the threat of personal liability, should the company ultimately fall into insolvency.

The proposals will also include key safeguards for creditors and suppliers to ensure they are paid, while existing laws against fraudulent trading and the threat of director disqualification will continue to act as an effective deterrent against reckless misuse of these new measures.

In addition, while laws against fraudulent trading and director misconduct will continue to provide a deterrent against poor practices, wrongful trading provisions in the Insolvency Act will be temporarily suspended specifically to give confidence to directors to continue trading without the threat of personal liability, should the company ultimately fall into insolvency. Find out more here.

Government to ease regulations to ensure hand sanitiser and personal protective equipment reaches NHS staff more quickly 


Government is easing administrative requirements and barriers to imports without compromising on safety. By easing regulations, new suppliers and businesses that produce ingredients for hand sanitiser will be able to bring their products to market in a matter of days.

Efforts to boost availability of essential supplies include:
- Asking the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Local Authorities to fast-track PPE through the product safety assessment process and prioritise this activity over other market surveillance activity
- Allowing products which lack the CE mark onto the market provided products meet essential safety requirements   
- Providing new guidance for local authorities and ports and borders enforcement officers on the import and safety testing of hand sanitiser.

Find out more here.

Further details of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme announced


New guidance  on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been published. In a move that could save businesses an extra £300 a month for each employee under the scheme, the government will now cover the employer national insurance and minimum auto-enrolment pension scheme contributions employers pay on the wages they must pay their furloughed staff – on top of the wages covered under the scheme. Those furloughed can volunteer for the NHS without risking their pay.

Guidance for employers on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can be found here whilst guidance for employees can be found here.

Requests for Business Intelligence and Assistance


Help us reach businesses to urgently raise awareness of available support 


We need your help to reach businesses across the UK to urgently raise awareness of the new coronavirus government Business Support campaign and the assistance available. A new toolkit includes content and messaging for you to share on your social media, websites, internal channels and newsletters to amplify campaign messages. The toolkit will help ensure all businesses have the best and most up to date information on the support that is available to them in a fast-moving situation. 

Business Intelligence: share the impact Coronavirus is having on your organisation 


We welcome information from businesses on impacts across supply, demand and labour markets, actions to address these impacts, and any gaps in the Government response from your perspective. Please send your intelligence to intel@beis.gov.uk. We are aware that individual company information may be commercially sensitive, and it will be treated accordingly.  Please note that this inbox is only for receiving intelligence and does not provide business advice.