The government has updated its guidance on how employers should treat certain expenses and benefits provided to employees during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The guidance now confirms that COVID-19 testing kits or third-party testing services purchased by employers to give to their employees, will be treated as a taxable benefit in kind on the employee. Where employees are working in a situation where the risk of transmitting COVID-19 is very high, and the employer’s risk assessment identifies the need for Personal Protective Equipment, then they must provide PPE free of charge. The provision of PPE to employees is non-taxable. The guidance goes on to state that where employees require PPE to carry out their roles, and the employers are unable to provide them with it, the employers must reimburse the actual expenses of the employees who purchased the PPE.
The government has also announced a new £1.57 billion support package to help protect the futures of UK theatres, galleries, museums, and other cultural venues. The support package is aimed at both protecting the historical institutions such as the National Galleries and Royal Albert Hall, but also local and more independent venues. This will be welcome news to the arts sector which has been one of the worst hit by the pandemic.
Resolution Foundation, a thinktank, has revealed that it has been in talks with the Treasury regarding its ideas for kickstarting the economy. It has been proposed that adults and children should be given vouchers to spend in those sectors of the economy, worst hit by the coronavirus crisis. Similar schemes have been unveiled in China, Taiwan and Malta.
Finally, there have been reports that recent changes made to the treasury direction on how the furlough scheme will operate, suggests that employers may be required to return any monies claimed where the employer intended to make the furloughed employee redundant. Legal commentary of the changes suggest that this is unlikely to be the case and the HMRC, speaking to the Telegraph, has stated that the change is merely clarifying the intended purpose of the scheme.
Listen to our podcast update here: Help For The Arts And An Updated Treasury Direction