Employer and employee support
• Business Planning
- Companies House: guidance if Coronavirus has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts.
- HMRC: tax helpline to help businesses concerned about paying their tax due to Coronavirus.
- EU drivers hours – Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of EU drivers’ hours rules: drivers supplying supermarkets.
- Barclays has an existing £14 billion lending fund which launched in 2019 as part of a three-year commitment to help SMEs build resilience during uncertain times.
- This Procurement Policy Note (PPN) from the Cabinet Office sets out information and guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers to ensure service continuity during and after the Coronavirus outbreak.
- Facebook: Safe and Sound: how businesses can respond to the coronavirus.
- Westfield Health: Information and advice on how to prepare your organisation.
• Working Remotely
- Online events: Top tips for presenting online events.
- HSE:Protect home workers
- ACAS: Advice for employers and employees
- Gov.UK : Guidance for employers and businesses
- Hays Recruitment: Resource Hub for managing at home
- Aon: Business Continuity Management for Infectious Disease Threat and Cyber Risk Implications of the Coronavirus Outbreak.
- Association of British Insurers (ABI): Coronavirus Q & A on insurance related queries and Coronavirus Information Hub.
- Hospitality Insurance Group Action (HIGA) has launched on behalf of hospitality sector businesses against insurers who continue to refuse to pay losses flowing from the government’s lockdown and Coronavirus. Hospitality sector policy holders can register their details for a free of charge review of their business interruption policies.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has published the following guidance and support:
- Employer guidance, which contains useful information about automatic enrolment duties, maintaining pensions contributions, and also outlines information about the Government’s Job Retention Scheme and how this might impact payroll processes and pension contributions. The website also includes a useful FAQ section which is regularly updated.
- Trustee guidance to support trustees and employers regarding Defined Benefit (DB) schemes and trustees of Defined Contribution (DC) schemes.
- A joint statement with the Financial Conduct Authority and Money and Pensions Service urging savers to take their time and visit the Pensions Advisory Service website for free plain English pensions guidance before making any decisions about their retirement savings. TPR has also published a blog detailing the changes they have been making in response to the current situation.
- Guidance on the administration risks and what trustees and administrators can do to reduce these risks in schemes during the pandemic.
- Guidance on salary sacrifice. Please note that this guidance will be more applicable to large employers and their advisers. Where this guidance applies to to smaller employers, it may be advisable for them to contact their payroll adviser or pension provider for help.
• Employee wellbeing
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. It is normal to feel stressed or lonely when self-isolating, but there are some things you can do to feel better.
- Guidance on social distancing in the workplace (England) and rules on social distancing in the workplace (Wales)
- Review the information from Mind on Coronavirus and your wellbeing with advice and support while self-isolating or working from home.
- New advice to support mental health during coronavirus outbreak.
- See 10 tips to help if you are worried about Coronavirus.
- Look after your mental wellbeing whilst staying at home.
- Get fit with a strength and flex workout plan.
- Support for renters – Complete ban on evictions and additional protection for renters.
- How to apply for a three month mortgage holiday.
- Cruise Bereavement Care: Dealing with bereavement and grief, Dealing with traumatic bereavement , Funerals and memorials and Grieving and isolation. If you have been bereaved by the virus you can contact their helpline on 0808 808 1677.
- Samaritans: Support during Coronavirus, Practical ways you can cope if you are feeling low or struggling to cope and Contact a Samaritan any time.
- ACAS: Time off for bereavement and Example of a bereavement policy
- NHS: List of helplines, Grief after bereavement or loss, Feeling Lonely and try their mood self-assessment.
- HMRC: Bereavement services from your local council and What to do when someone dies: step by step.
• Policing and fraud
- The College of Policing and National Police Chiefs Council briefing in relation to Coronavirus.
Advice from City of London Police on scams relating to the Coronavirus pandemic
- Criminals will use any opportunity they can to take money from innocent people. This includes exploiting tragedies and global emergencies, such as the Coronavirus pandemic, to scam people in a variety of ways. The number of these scams are only likely to increase and we need individuals and businesses to be fully aware and prepared.
- As more people stay indoors and work from computers and laptops at home, there is more opportunity for criminals to try and trick people into parting with their money at a time when they are anxious and uncertain about the future.
- We have already received nearly 400 reports of fraud related to Coronavirus, the majority of which are online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser, and other products, which have never arrived. We have also seen a large amount of phishing emails and texts circulating, that use Coronavirus as a hook, and try to get recipients to click on links or attachments which harvest information and lead to the individual revealing personal or financial details.
Is fraud rising?
While the number of reports of fraud in general is not increasing, we are warning people that the current social situation we find ourselves in could lead to any number of fraud types increasing as this immediate public health crisis unfolds. We are advising people to be particularly vigilant around:
Computer Software Service Fraud – as more people work from home, fraudsters may capitalise on slow networks and IT problems, to commit computer software service fraud. Be wary of cold calls or unsolicited emails offering you help with your device or to fix a problem. Attached is a helpful graphic with protection advice.
Mandate Fraud – with more people working at home, it may be easier for fraudsters to impersonate senior decision makers, with seemingly valid reasons why they cannot be contacted, and request a change in a direct debit, standing order or bank transfer mandate, by purporting to be an organisation you make regular payments to. The change they ask you to make will divert funds to their own bank account.
In response to the increased threat from mandate fraud during the Coronavirus outbreak, the UK government Counter Fraud Function has issued a mandate fraud guidance document.
Bank Mandate Fraud Guidance from Police Scotland
• Cyber security advice working from home
Many organisations are either moving to working remotely for the first time or significantly increasing it, and this presents a number of cyber security challenges. Advice on how to respond to those challenges is set out in the NCSC’s working from home guidance.
There are a number of practical steps organisations can take to reduce the risk including:
- Supporting people to use stronger passwords and setting up two factor authentication.
- Ensuring staff know how to report problems, especially those related to security.
- Creating ‘How do I’ guides for new software and tools staff may be using.
- Using VPNs to allow users to securely access the organisation’s IT services.
- Ensuring devices encrypt data whilst at rest.
Some organisations may be allowing staff to use their own devices to work remotely. In this case, please refer to the NCSC’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) guidance.
In addition to following the guidance set out above, it is worth being aware of phishing emails which trick users into clicking on a bad link. Once clicked, the user is sent to a website which could download malware onto your computer, or steal passwords. We know that cyber criminals are opportunistic and will look to take advantage of people’s fears, and there is evidence that the coronavirus outbreak is being exploited in this way.
Those who do fall victim shouldn’t feel bad – these scams can be extremely convincing – but what they should do as quickly as possible is report it to their IT department when the incident is work-related or Action Fraud when it is personal. They can also open their antivirus (AV) software if installed, and run a full scan, following any instructions given. If they’ve been tricked into providing password, they should change their passwords on all their other accounts. The NCSC’s guidance on suspicious emails provides more tips on this.
Our Cyber Griffin team have also created a series of short video guides on how to keep you and your family safe while online at home which contain practical hints and tips and cover a range of topics, including passwords, phishing, vishing and multi-factor authentication.