We are doing all we can to support our Members during this difficult time. Please bear with us when calling our membership team or legal helpline as we are currently inundated with enquiries from Members. Please try calling back, but in the meantime the following FAQs may answer your questions.

Salons and must barbershops must close

Please note: the government has ordered salons and barbershops to close with effect from 23 March 2020. Download a client information poster to display in your salon/barbershop and on your website and social media. You can also download an email and social media message for clients.

Don't fall for fraudsters and scammers

Fraudsters and scammers will be trying to take advantage of those who are anxiously waiting for financial support to come through. Be very wary if anyone contacts you via phone, email, post or text claiming to be from the government, HMRC or any other body such as a local council or bank. In addition, fraudsters have been registering websites with names such as 'Coronavirus Compensation Ltd' - use only the official gov.uk website.

The government has published guidelines to help you avoid scammers and fraudsters during the coronavirus crisis. Do take the time to read it. It explains what correspondence you can expect to receive and how to tell if an email or text is fraudulent.

Check for updates

Check back often as this is a fast-moving situation and we will be updating these FAQs as things change.  Also - see our:

Find specific government information for:

Visit the government's coronavirus financial support page.

Read the latest advice from the NHS.

FAQs

The following FAQs were published before salons and barbershops were told to close:

Has the government told salons and barbershops to close?  

Yes. Your business must now be closed. This was announced by the government on 23 March 2020.

See below for information about the financial support announced by the government. 

Download a client information poster to display in your salon/barbershop and on your website and social media.

You can also download an email and social media message for clients.

Can I lay off staff ?  

Before laying off staff:

The government is trying to prevent employers laying off staff at this difficult time and on 20 March announced the following financial help:

Employment and pay measures

The government has announced that it will cover up to 80% (to a maximum of £2,500 per person) of the salary of workers if employers keep them on the payroll, rather than laying them off. The payments will be backdated to 1 March 2020 and should be available within weeks. The scheme will be open for three months. 

Employers can decide whether or not they wish to top up the remaining 20%. They do not have to pay it.

Read government guidance on this scheme. 

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

The government has confirmed that:

  • Employees are entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) when they are working.
  • Furloughed employees are not working and so are not eligible for the National Minimum Wage during this time.
  • The scheme will make up 80% of wages for all employees including those on the NMW. This amount could be less than the NMW.

Citizens Advice has provided the following links that may be useful for your employees if they are struggling financially before the 80% payments kick in:

Read our government job retention scheme FAQs.

Find out more about the government's job retention scheme.

NHBF Members have access to a free 24/7 legal helpline. 

I made my staff redundant before we were told to close, can I re-employ them? 

The government's job retention scheme covers employees who have been made redundant since 28 February 2020, provided they are rehired by their employer. The government has not yet explained exactly how this will work.

Our legal team suggests that a conditional offer of re-engagement be made to the dismissed employee confirming that you will re-employ them on the understanding they will be furloughed. You can then apply for financial help under the job retention scheme.

The offer of re-employment should also confirm that if the application to the scheme is rejected for any reason you are under no obligation to pay the employee nor provide them with work.

Always seek legal advice about this issue.

See our coronavirus job retention scheme FAQs.

Can I tell my employees to become self-employed chair/space/room renters? 

You cannot force your employees to become self-employed or make them feel as if they have no option but to become self-employed. 

Do existing chair/space/room renters still have to pay rent?

If you use the NHBF chair/space/room renting agreements, the following applies:

The following information was updated on 1 April 2020: 

This information specifically refers to the legal effect of the 'force majeure' clause in the NHBF chair renting/room renting agreements.  

  • The contract is, in effect, suspended for up to three months.
  • If the chair renter/space/room renter has no income because the salon/ barbershop is closed, it is possible that they may struggle to pay the rent to the salon/barbershop, and are therefore in breach of contract.
  • Likewise, the salon owner/barbershop is also potentially in breach of contract by not allowing access to the premises.
  • Both parties may try to accuse the other of being in breach – however, the force majeure clause then kicks in and stops each party being in breach and being able to sue during any period of suspension.
  • On the face of it, however, the rent due during the suspension period would continue to accrue and would still be due when the three months ends and thereafter.
  • The chair/space/room renter and salon/barbershop owner should, therefore, try to come to an agreement as to how this can be repaid when both are trading again. It is advisable to be fair and flexible – it may be very difficult for the chair/space/room renter to pay all the rent back in one lump sum, and presumably, in most cases, both parties will want the relationship to continue and be successful - salons and barbershops will be very busy when they re-open, so it's in everyone's best interest to negotiate. Regard must therefore be had to the fact that when things get back to normal, the salon owner/barber shop is likely to want the agreement to continue and not be brought to an end by the chair/space/room renter giving notice to end the contract. 
  • If nothing has changed after three months, either party can give seven days’ notice to end the contract.
  • If the chair/space/room renter does not pay the rent they owe, the salon owner/barber shop would need to take action in the civil courts to get the unpaid rent back if they deem it expedient to do so.

If you do not use NHBF contracts, you will need to take legal advice.

What about my apprentices?

Follow the links below to find out what plans are being put in place to support apprentices and their employers.

Please note: If you require your apprentices to do online training while they are furloughed this will count as working for you and you would be expected to pay them their full apprenticeship pay. See a more detailed explanation of this.

England

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is taking steps to ensure that, wherever possible, apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship. ESFA has published a list of detailed Q&As that provide guidance about what to do and measures the government is putting in place to help employers and apprentices in England.

Scotland

Skills Development Scotland has announced that its absolute priority is to support individuals at this time. Read its FAQs on this topic.

Wales

The Welsh government is encouraging learning providers and employers to support apprentices to continue their learning where possible. Find out more.

Northern Ireland

We do not yet have specific information regarding apprenticeships and the coronavirus in Northern Ireland. You can try emailing your questions to: apprenticeships@economy-ni.gov.uk

All six further education colleges in Northern Ireland have suspended face-to-face teaching activities until further notice. Follow the links below for more information:

What has the government announced about annual leave?

Employees will not lose any annual leave they are unable to take during the leave year because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The new regulations announced by the government on 27 March 2020 will allow up to four weeks of unused leave to be carried over into the next two  years.

In normal circumstances, very little annual leave entitlement can be carried over. Employers are obliged to ensure their employees take their statutory entitlement to annual leave in any one year.

What financial help has the government announced?

Employment and pay measures 

The government has announced that it will cover up to 80% (to a maximum of £2,500 per person) of the salary of workers if employers keep them on the payroll, rather than laying them off. The payments will be backdated to 1 March 2020 and should be available within weeks. The scheme will be open for three months. 

Read government guidance on this scheme

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

The government has confirmed that:

  • Employees are entitled to the National Minimum Wage when they are working.
  • Furloughed employees are not working and so are not eligible for the National Minimum Wage during this time.
  • The scheme will make up 80% of wages for all employees including those on the NMW. This amount could be less than the NMW.

Citizens Advice has provided the following links that may be useful for your employees if they are struggling financially before the 80% payments kick in:

Read our government job retention scheme FAQs.

Find out more on the government website.

VAT payments 

If you’re a UK VAT registered business and have a VAT payment due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, you have the option to:

  • Defer the payment until a later date.
  • Pay the VAT due as normal.

Find out how to defer your VAT payment.

Business interruption loans 

A coronavirus business interruption loan scheme will offer interest-free loans for 12 months. Find out how to apply for one of these loans. Do remember that you will always be 100% liable to pay back any loan you take out.

Benefits 

The benefits safety net is to be strengthened with, for example, increases in Housing Benefit, Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit.

The following has also been announced:

  • A year-long holiday from paying business rates for all businesses in retail, leisure and hospitality. This will include salons and barbershops in England.  See more information about England on the government website. (See details below for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.)
  • One-off grants of £10,000-£25,000 to businesses in England. There are two schemes: the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant. The government says that your local authority will contact you about any grants you are entitled to. Local authorities will receive the funding in early April. You can read the government's guidance for local authorities about these schemes.
  • Statutory Sick Pay: Small and medium-sized businesses with under 250 employees will be able to reclaim up to two weeks of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) that is paid for sick leave/self-isolation due to coronavirus. Employers must keep records but employees will not need to provide ‘fit’ (sick) notes. This will be backdated to 13 March inclusive. It will be paid from the first day of sickness (it is usually paid from day four). This scheme is currently being set up.
  • Anyone not eligible to receive SSP, including those earning less than an average of £118 per week and self-employed people can claim Universal Credit online and/or contributory Employment and Support Allowance. (Please note: do NOT call the Department of Work & Pensions about your Universal Credit claim. They will call you if they need to clarify anything.)

Help was also announced for small businesses in the recent Budget

What has the Welsh government announced?

The Welsh Government has announced a package of support worth £1.4bn for small businesses to help them during the coronavirus outbreak.
 
Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses will receive 100% business rates relief for the financial year 2020/21. ('Hospitality, leisure and retail' will include salons and barbershops in Wales.)
 
The Welsh government will be offering grants to businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less (a grant of £10,000) and those in retail, leisure and hospitality with a rateable value of £12,001-£51,000 (a grant of £25,000).  Businesses will need to apply online and these systems are currently being set up.
 
Find more information on the Business Wales website.
 

What has the Scottish government announced?

To help owners of non-domestic properties, including businesses, deal with the impact of COVID-19, the Scottish Government has made changes to non-domestic rates (business rates) for 2020-21.

  • All non-domestic properties in Scotland will get a 1.6% rates relief. This relief effectively reverses the change in poundage for 2020-21. You do not need to apply for this relief and it will be applied to your bill by your local council.
  • Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will get 100% rates relief ('hospitality, leisure and retail' will include salons and barbershops in Scotland). To get this relief, a property has to be occupied. 

The Scottish Government has also introduced extra rates reliefs (discounts). These reliefs will be available to non-domestic properties from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.

Small businesses in receipt of the small business bonus scheme or rural relief, as well as hospitality, leisure and retail business can apply for a grant. ('Hospitality, leisure and retail' will include salons and barbershops in Scotland.)

What has the Northern Ireland Executive announced?

Businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief and those in retail, leisure and hospitality with a rateable value of £15,000-£51,000 (we are waiting for confirmation that 'hospitality, leisure and retail' will include salons and barbershops) will be eligible for grants. Registration is now open for businesses to apply. Find out more.

Rates holiday for businesses

There will be a three month rates holiday for all business ratepayers, excluding public sector and utilities. No rates will be charged for April, May and June 2020. This will be shown as a 25% discount on the annual rate bill for business ratepayers.

Delay in rate bills

Rate bills for 2020-21 were due to be issued in April 2020. To avoid placing financial pressure on ratepayers affected by COVID-19, rate bills will not be issued until June 2020.

When rate bills are sent in June 2020, ratepayers can still choose to pay their bill in monthly instalments between June 2020 and March 2021. Monthly direct debit payment plans will be updated to collect payments between June 2020 and March 2021.

Find out more.

Do I still have to pay the rent on my premises while we are closed?

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of the coronavirus outbreak will be protected from eviction.

These measures will mean no business will automatically forfeit their lease and be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment up until 30 June.

The government may extend this period if needed.

This is not a rental holiday. All commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent. Commercial tenants are protected from eviction if they are unable to pay rent.

Eligibility

All commercial tenants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are eligible.

Please note: the Scottish Parliament has not yet confirmed that this measure will apply in Scotland.

Find out more on the government website.

What other financial steps should I take?

It's good idea to talk to your bank as they are taking a more flexible approach at this time and may be able to offer payment holidays or an emergency loan.

Speak to your suppliers and try to negotiate flexible payment terms if you currently owe money for products or equipment.

Talk to your accountant if you have one. They may be able to offer additional expert advice.

How do I keep my premises safe while my business is closed?

The Metropolitan Police have issued some guidelines including the following:

  • Test your alarm, ensure it is monitored and fully operational
  • Identify any vulnerable areas. Rectify these. Ensure security gates, bollards and fire
    exit doors have been secured prior to closure of the premises.
  • Make sure you have a list of key holders who can be contacted in times of emergency.
    Ensure your contact details for staff are up to date.
  • Consider moving high value items into secured stockrooms and out of view.
  • Ensure keys to the premises are not left inside and are instead with
    dedicated key holders.
  • Consider timer switches or ensure sufficient lighting is left on at the
    premises/surrounding area.
  • Ensure there are no combustible materials left near the building such as
    packaging - consider the risk of arson.
  • Review your CCTV to confirm it is working, provides good quality images and is
    positioned to cover as much of your premises as possible. You may wish to
    consider a mobile phone app that allows connectivity and a vocal capacity to engage
    with any intruder.
  • External shutters are recommended but some buildings may be subject to planning
    approval before installation
  • Laminated glass or security film can be applied to existing glass to make it more
    resistant to a physical assault. Shutters and grilles ( subject to planning regulations may
    also be a consideration).
  • Fogging devices that activate as a result of an intruder activation may also be
    beneficial-you can’t steal what you can’t see.
  • Avoid legionella by regularly flushing through your taps and water outlets if this is possible while complying with the government's current lockdown rules. Find out more on the Legionella Control website.

What help is available for the self-employed? 

Rental payments

If you use the NHBF chair/space/room renting agreements, please see this information.

If you do not use NHBF contracts, you will need to take legal advice.

The chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the following support for the self-employed on 26 March 2020: 

  • The self-employment income support scheme is for those with average profits per year of £50,000 or less and who make more than half of their income from self-employment. 
  • The scheme is open to the self-employed and members of partnerships.
  • The government says it hopes the scheme will be up and running by the start of June 2020. Application will be via a simple online form. HMRC will contact self-employed people and ask them to fill in the form. 
  • The scheme is open to those who are already self-employed and have a Self Assessment tax return for 2018/2019. You must be trading when you apply or would have been except for the coronavirus outbreak. You must have traded in the tax year 2019/2020 and have lost profits due the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Self-employed individuals who haven’t filed their January 2020 tax return (for the previous financial year 2018/2019) will be given four weeks to do this so they can still benefit from the scheme. 
  • Self-employed individuals will be able to claim 80% of their monthly wages as a ‘taxable grant’ from the government. This will be calculated using average monthly profits over the past three financial years. If three years of tax returns are not available, the grant will be based on whatever tax returns the self-employed person has submitted. The grant will be paid in one sum to cover three months. 
  • Payments will be capped at £2,500 a month. 
  • The scheme will initially be for three months but may be extended. 
  • The self-employed can also access the coronavirus business interruption loan.
  • Those who pay themselves a salary and dividends through their own company are not covered by the scheme but may be covered by the coronavirus job retention scheme if they are operating PAYE.
  • More information about this scheme can be found on the government website.

Working while receiving the grant: self-employed individuals can still work while receiving this grant, but they must comply with the government's rules about staying indoors and social distancing, so this is probably of little help to self-employed therapists, stylists and barbers.

Scam warning 

The government has stressed that you cannot apply for this scheme yet. HMRC will contact you if you are eligible – but this will not happen for a while. In the meantime, the government has issued the following warning about scammers and fraudsters: 

You will access this scheme only through the government website. If someone texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you can claim financial help or are owed a tax refund, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, it is a scam. Find out more.

In addition:

Read FAQs about this on the government website.

Find more information about this on the government website.

Can I give my clients home appointments?

No. This would be against the government's strict social distancing instructions which say you must stay at home apart from essential travel. We need to do all we can to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Also - please bear in mind that your insurance will probably not cover you if you normally work in a salon or barbershop.
 

Can I sell/supply professional hair colour products to my clients?

No. These products should be marked ‘for professional use only’ and salons/barbershops should never offer them for resale or supply them to clients. If you do, you could be held liable for anything that goes wrong when the client uses the product as you won’t have assessed the client’s hair or completed any tests, including any required allergy alert tests. In addition, the client may not mix the product correctly, time it correctly, remove it thoroughly or apply the required conditioners.
 

Also: It is very difficult for clients to successfully apply re-touching products at home. Clients tend to apply it to the whole hair which leads to patchy, over-processed results and sometimes a colour reaction such as a green tinge. Again, you could be held liable for anything that goes wrong.

If something goes wrong, and you are held liable,  your insurance won't cover you for any claim made by the client. Your reputation could also be damaged.

See more information about this, including advice about colour shampoos and retail products.

Will my business insurance cover me for losses caused by the coronavirus? 

Check with your insurance provider to see if you are covered.  However, very few businesses have the specific cover that would potentially enable them to claim for the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read detailed information about this provided by the Association of British Insurers.

I can’t afford to pay my tax bill. What should I do? 

If you are having difficulty paying your tax at this time, you may be able to get support via HMRC’s Time To Pay service. Call the dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559. 

What are the numbers for the government's business support helplines?

Bear in mind that these helplines will be extremely busy at the moment. The numbers are:

  • England: 0300 456 3565.  
  • Scotland: 0300 303 0660.
  • Wales: 0300 060 3000.
  • Northern Ireland 0800 181 4422.

What is the NHBF doing? 

The NHBF is in close daily contact with key government officials and MPs to fight for the interests of our Members at this hugely difficult time.  

The following FAQs were published before salons and barbershops were told to close:

What is the coronavirus? 

Coronavirus is a virus that is causing the new illness COVID-19 which can affect lungs and airways. 

What are the symptoms? 

  • A high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back.
  • A new, continuous cough (you are coughing repeatedly).

Go to the NHS website for detailed advice about how to avoid catching and spreading the virus and what to do if you or someone you know has the symptoms. 

Can I require my employees to stay away from work as a precautionary measure even if they are not sick or showing any symptoms? 

This means that you as the employer have made the decision not to allow the employee to work so they are entitled to full pay UNLESS:

  • You have the contractual right to lay your employee off without pay in these circumstances (see above).
  • The employee is instructed to work from home if feasible (not usually relevant for salons and barbershops).
  • The employee agrees to take annual leave. You can tell your employees when to take annual leave but you must give twice as much notice as the amount of annual leave you want them to take. 

Always take legal advice if you are unsure about this. NHBF Members have access to a 24/7 legal helpline. 

Can I tell my employees to take paid annual leave if I need to close the business for a period of time? 

You can tell your employees when to take annual leave, but you must give them twice as much notice as the amount of leave you want them to take. Call our membership team on 01234 831965 or our free 24/7 legal helpline to make sure your calculations are correct. 

Can I stop clients with symptoms coming into my salon or barbershop? 

Yes. Download an information poster (Update: you now need to download the salon/barbershop closure notice) to display in your salon/barbershop and on your website and social media. The poster asks clients who may be infected to stay away. Make sure your reception team understand the importance of enforcing the rules and feel confident explaining them on the telephone and to clients/potential clients who come into your salon/barbershop. 

Get government advice for cleaning the workplace if someone with symptoms has been in your salon or workshop. 

My employee has rung in with coronavirus symptoms, what should they do? 

If they are unwell or displaying symptoms such as a high temperature or continuous cough, they should self-isolate for seven days. Everyone else in their household should self-isolate for 14 days. See the government’s guidance

Your employee will be entitled to any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them if they need to self-isolate because they:

  • have coronavirus;
  • have the symptoms;
  • live with someone who has coronavirus symptoms;
  • have been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111; or
  • are acting in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland or Public Health Wales.

See our update for the latest announcements about SSP including who will cover the cost and when it can start. Employers must keep records but employees will not need to provide ‘fit’ (sick) notes if they are self-isolating in accordance with government guidance. 

My employee’s family member has coronavirus symptoms, what should my employee do? 

If the family member is unwell or displaying symptoms such as a high temperature or continuous cough, they should self-isolate for seven days. Everyone else in their household including your employee should self-isolate for 14 days. 

If your employee develops symptoms, they will need to self-isolate for seven days from the time their symptoms start, even if this means they are at home for longer than 14 days. See the government’s guidance

Your employee will be entitled to any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them if they need to self-isolate because they:

  • have coronavirus;
  • have the symptoms;
  • live with someone who has coronavirus symptoms;
  • have been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111; or
  • are acting in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland or Public Health Wales.

See our update for the latest announcements about SSP including who will cover the cost and when it can start. Employers must keep records but employees will not need to provide ‘fit’ (sick) notes if they are self-isolating in accordance with government guidance. 

My employee has returned from holiday – do they need to self-isolate? 

If they are unwell or displaying symptoms such as a high temperature or continuous cough, they should self-isolate for seven days. Everyone else in their household should self-isolate for 14 days. See the government’s guidance

Your employee will be entitled to any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them if they need to self-isolate because they:

  • have coronavirus;
  • have the symptoms;
  • live with someone who has coronavirus symptoms;
  • have been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111; or
  • are acting in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland or Public Health Wales.

See our update for the latest announcements about SSP including who will cover the cost and when it can start. Employers must keep records but employees will not need to provide ‘fit’ (sick) notes if they are self-isolating in accordance with government guidance. 

A member of my employee’s family has just returned from holiday – does my employee need to self-isolate? 

If the family member is unwell or displaying symptoms such as a high temperature or continuous cough, they should self-isolate for seven days. Everyone else in their household including your employee should self-isolate for 14 days. 

If your employee develops symptoms, they will need to self-isolate for seven days from the time their symptoms start, even if this means they are at home for longer than 14 days. See the government’s guidance

Your employee will be entitled to any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them if they need to self-isolate because they:

  • have coronavirus;
  • have the symptoms;
  • live with someone who has coronavirus symptoms;
  • have been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111; or
  • are acting in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland or Public Health Wales.

See our update for the latest announcements about SSP including who will cover the cost and when it can start. Employers must keep records but employees will not need to provide ‘fit’ (sick) notes if they are self-isolating in accordance with government guidance. 

My employee has coronavirus – what pay are they entitled to? 

Your employee will be entitled to sick pay in accordance with your company sick pay policy, including  Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). 

See our update for the latest announcements about SSP including who will cover the cost and when it can start. Employers must keep records of their employee's sickness absence. (If your employee has been medically diagnosed they will probably be provided with a fit (sick) note confirming how long they should stay off work.)

My employee has to stay at home and self-isolate – what pay are they entitled to?

Your employee will be entitled to any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them if they need to self-isolate because they:

  • have coronavirus;
  • have the symptoms;
  • live with someone who has coronavirus symptoms;
  • have been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111; or
  • are acting in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland or Public Health Wales.

See our update for the latest announcements about SSP including who will cover the cost and when it can start. Employers must keep records but employees will not need to provide ‘fit’ (sick) notes if they are self-isolating in accordance with government guidance. 

Can my employees stay off work because they are afraid of catching the virus? 

Always listen to their concerns and try to take steps that will make them feel more comfortable about coming into work. 

If they still do not want to come in and you have read all the government and NHS advice and consider the risk for your salon/barbershop's staff and clients to be low, any employees who wish to stay off work can be given the option to book annual leave or take unpaid leave if you are willing to offer this option. You do not have to agree to do this. 

Employers can insist on attendance if the employee’s concerns are unfounded but this may be difficult to do in practice. And while it is true to say that this may amount to refusing to follow a reasonable management instruction and could result in disciplinary action, remember that most people are doing their best to act responsibly and prevent the spread of the virus. Employers are advised to be sympathetic to their employees at this difficult time.

Always take legal advice before taking disciplinary action. NHBF Members have access to a 24/7 legal helpline

What if my employee cannot get to work because of travel restrictions? 

In these circumstances, you do not have to pay your employee their usual salary. Your employee would be taking unpaid leave. 

You could allow your employee to take annual leave. The situation would change if they are required to self-isolate or become ill. 

Your employee will be entitled to any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them if they need to self-isolate because they:

  • have coronavirus;
  • have the symptoms;
  • live with someone who has coronavirus symptoms;
  • have been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111; or
  • are acting in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland or Public Health Wales.

See our update for the latest announcements about SSP including who will cover the cost and when it can start. Employers must keep records but employees will not need to provide ‘fit’ (sick) notes if they are self-isolating in accordance with government guidance. 

What if an employee becomes unwell at work with coronavirus symptoms? 

Instruct your employees to let you know straightaway if they have coronavirus symptoms.

If anyone starts to develop symptoms, they should go home immediately and self-isolate for seven days. (Anyone who lives them will need to self-isolate for 14 days.) 

Ring 999 if your employee becomes seriously ill or their life appears to be at risk. 

Get government advice for cleaning the workplace if someone with symptoms has been in your salon or workshop. 

Can my employee stay off work to look after a dependant who has coronavirus or has been told to stay at home (for example, school closures)? 

Employees are entitled to a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to deal with an emergency relating to a dependant including children. (Some employment contracts may state that this type of leave is paid – always check.) 

If more time is needed than the usual 24/48 hours, and/or the reason for being off is to care for the dependant rather than make arrangements for someone else to care for them, alternative arrangements are needed:

  • Your employee could take annual leave or unpaid leave.
  • Consider whether there is any entitlement to parental or other types of leave.
  • Consider offering your employee different hours so they can be at home more during the day when their children would normally have been in school.

Try to keep up to date with new financial measures as they are announced by the government – financial support may become available to make payments to staff who are taking unpaid leave.

Important: If a child or someone else in your employee’s household has coronavirus symptoms, your employee must self-isolate for 14 days and will be entitled to any Statutory Sick Pay due to them. 

Please note: the government is advising that children should not be left with elderly relatives. 

What about pregnant employees? 

Unfortunately, the rights of pregnant employees in relation to coronavirus remain unclear at this time. Pregnant women have been advised to work from home if possible. However, stylists or therapists cannot do this. 

The only legal advice we currently have is to consider taking extra precautions for pregnant employees and monitor government announcements every day. Review and update your pregnancy risk assessments to reflect any changes that are made. 

Can I stop paying commission to help protect my business finances at this time? 

If your commission scheme is included as part of your employment contracts, you will need to take legal advice as any non-payment could amount to a breach of contract.   

Also, be aware that if you have paid commissions for a long time your employers could argue that they have become an ‘implied’ term of their employment contract, even if it’s not in writing. Again, you will need to take legal advice.  

Remember that if you stop paying commissions, you must ensure all your employees still receive the National Minimum Wage.