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.

You may also find the following regularly updated blog posts helpful:

Rules and restrictions across the four nations

Financial support for salons and barbershops and the self-employed across the four nations

Coping with local lockdowns

Test & trace FAQs: asking for client details

Annual leave rules: temporary changes

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

Read the latest advice from the NHS.

FAQs

Can I report other businesses that are not following safety guidelines?

If you have concerns or wish to report a business that is failing to implement the recommended safety standards for limiting the risk of COVID-19, there is an HSE helpline (0300 003 1647) and an online form which can be used to report non-compliance.

Salons and barbershops can also be reported to their local authority. You can find the relevant local council here.

Can I lay off staff ?  

Before laying off staff:

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

Employment and pay measures

The furlough scheme has been extended until the end of November 2020.

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 a percentage of wages for all employees including those on the NMW. This amount could be less than the NMW.

New Job Support Scheme 

A new Job Support Scheme will be introduced when the current furlough scheme ends. It will aim to protect viable jobs in businesses that are facing lower demand over the winter months due to coronavirus. Under the scheme, which will run for six months, the government will contribute towards the wages of employees who are working fewer than normal hours due to decreased demand. 

Employers will pay the wages of staff for the hours they work. However, for the hours not worked, the government and the employer will each pay one third of their equivalent salary. Employees must be working at least 33% of their usual hours. The level of grant will be calculated based on the employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month. 

The Job Support Scheme will be open to businesses across the UK even if they have not previously used the furlough scheme. Further guidance about the scheme will be published by the government shortly. 

Read the NHBF’s response to the new scheme

New Job Retention Bonus

The Job Retention Bonus is a one-off payment to employers of £1,000 for every employee who they previously claimed for under the scheme, and who remains continuously employed through to 31 January 2021. Eligible employees must earn at least £520 a month on average between the 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021. Employers will be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus after they have filed PAYE for January and payments will be made to employers from February 2021.

Citizens Advice has provided the following links that may be useful for your employees if they are struggling financially:

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? 

Employees who were employed as of 28 February 2020 and on payroll (i.e. notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 28 February) and were made redundant or stopped working for the employer after that and prior to 19 March 2020, can qualify for the job retention scheme if the employer re-employs them and puts them on furlough.

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 23 June 2020:  

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

For the first three months of lockdown the following applied: 

  • 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.  

Now that the contract has been suspended for three months the following applies to chair rental agreements:

  • Either party can give seven days’ notice to end the contract.
  • If the chair renter does not pay the rent they owe, the salon/barbershop owner would need to take action in the civil courts to get the unpaid rent back if they deem it expedient to do so. 

Please note: tenancy agreements 

If you have any tenancy agreements in place with space or room renters you will not be able to force your tenants out or use ‘Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery’ until 30 September. Find out more about this on the government website. 

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.

Some employers have been asking if their hair/beauty apprentices can take the practical observation element of the end point assessment online. 

However, it has been agreed by the end point assessment organisations that this cannot be done online and must wait until current social distancing restrictions are lifted. This will ensure the apprentice can safely progress to providing services to the public.

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. 

The government has just updated its guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations. The guidance applies to England. It includes information on training and assessment in line with safer working guidelines, calculating wages for furloughed apprentices, support for redundant apprentices and FAQs. Find out more.

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:

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

Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick has announced that commercial tenants, which includes hair and beauty salons, barbershops, nail and eyelash bars and tanning shops, will be protected from the risk of eviction until the end of 2020, helping businesses to survive and protect jobs. Find out more.

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.

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.

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? 

UPDATE: 15 JANUARY 2021

Latest on business interruption insurance 

The Supreme Court has ruled that some insurance companies must pay out to policy holders who made claims under their business interruption cover. 

Many insurance companies refused to accept claims at first, but the Supreme Court has ruled that policy holders are entitled to claim under certain types of policy and has told insurers to pay out in these cases as soon as possible. 

Which insurers have to pay out? 

This ruling applies to 14 types of insurance policy issued by six insurers and also applies to many other similar policies held by business owners.

All insurance companies now have to review their policies in the light of this judgment.

Contact your insurance provider to find out how the court ruling affects you. 

Further details are available on the Financial Conduct Authority's website.

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

Salons and barbershops who deferred their VAT bills will be given the option to pay back in smaller instalments.

Self-assessment taxpayers can benefit from an additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the “Time to Pay” self-service facility, meaning payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022.

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.