The Government has announced details of a support package to protect public sector contractors who are unable work due to COVID-19. In addition to protecting public sector contractors from loss of earnings, the support will also mean that contingent workers are retained in vital public sectors such as healthcare and education by ensuring continuation of payment.
An official guidance document defines ‘contingent workers’ as contractors, umbrella and agency PAYE workers. The scheme will enable them to claim 80% of their pay rate up to a maximum of £2,500 per month in the event of temporary office closures, sickness or self-isolation. Individuals working part-time on qualifying public sector projects are included, and in certain instances the support may also apply to those with childcare responsibilities.
For contractors who have been working ad-hoc hours, the end-client will determine the average days or hours worked over a maximum 12-week period before making the calculation. If the contractor is already in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay, then the claim will be deducted in order to bring the total payment to 80% of the gross pay, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. Contractors should get in touch with their usual end-client contact for payment to report any Covid-19 related absence, highlighting how their inability to work is related to the virus.
The initiative resembles the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for employees; however, it is based on pay rate rather than PAYE earnings. It will apply to all Government departments, their executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies, including the likes of the NHS and the Department of Education. The monthly payment can be backdated up to 1st March and is initially available for at least three months.
For those whose contract is due to automatically end in this period, the public sector body isn’t obliged to provide support past the contract’s expiration. While other public sector organisations have been encouraged to roll out this scheme to their contingent workers, it isn’t yet mandatory, and public sector contractors should contact their engager or agency to discuss the matter. At the present time, the support isn’t available to private sector contractors, although lobbyists are petitioning this.
ContractingWISE has a range of options to help you keep your contracting career on track, including setting up or reopening a limited company, or finding an umbrella company to suit your needs. To talk to a member of our team, call: 0203 642 8679