Statement on coronavirus (COVID-19)

An official statement from Zellis on coronavirus.

Zellis

Mar 27th 2020

At Zellis, we are firmly committed to delivering our services and solutions to the highest possible standard during the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, whilst protecting the health and well-being of colleagues, customers and suppliers.

We understand the importance of partnering with our customers during times of uncertainty to create assurance that the right procedures are in place to ensure the safe continuation of business. We know that these are extremely difficult and unpredictable circumstances for businesses, so we are working to provide additional support for our customers where they may need it.

In this statement we aim to provide clarity on our current approach. Please note we will update this page as new information is made available to us. We suggest you visit this page frequently to keep up-to-date.

Business continuity and resilience

We have business continuity plans in place to manage a variety of potential events, including the impact of an epidemic/pandemic. Although there are a growing number of cases of coronavirus confirmed in countries in which our colleagues and services are based (the UK, the Republic of Ireland, and India), we are doing all we can to prepare for every eventuality.

i. Monitoring the development of the outbreak

As part of our business continuity planning, we have a team in place from across the Zellis group who are carefully and constantly monitoring the development of the outbreak. This includes daily monitoring of the advice and guidance issued by:

  • The Government of the United Kingdom
  • The Government of the Republic of Ireland
  • The Government of the Republic of India
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO)

This puts us in a stronger position to react promptly to support our colleagues and customers as and when the situation changes.

ii. Protecting and supporting our colleagues

In light of the rapid spread of coronavirus, we have taken several steps to both protect the health and safety our colleagues and to ensure, as far as possible, that they are able to continue carrying out their job responsibilities.

We have:

  • Rapidly progressed our work-from-home capabilities for those colleagues who can fulfil their day-to-day responsibilities at home. The overwhelming majority of our colleagues are now able to work from home.
  • Taken action so that all colleagues within our Managed Services division are able to work from home – and deployed this for nearly all roles.
  • Rolled out training on privacy and security good practice in a home environment for all work-from-home colleagues.
  • Reduced any non-essential travel between our office locations.
  • Reviewed and adjusted internal controls to safeguard information security.
  • Scheduled frequent internal communications to provide updates and guidance to our colleagues.

Supporting your colleagues: 6 months’ free access to OneHub | Recognition

In these tough times it is so important to keep your team’s morale up and to recognise people going to extraordinary lengths to support customers and colleagues. That’s why Benefex (which is a Zellis company) is giving away 6 months' access to its social recognition software, OneHub | Recognition free of charge to any Zellis customer - or indeed any UK or Irish business which has large numbers of employees. You can find out more by joining a webinar on Tuesday, 31st March – register here.

iii. Business continuity planning and disaster recovery

We are fully prepared to enact part or all of our business continuity plans (BCP) and disaster recovery plans for a particular Zellis site or group of sites, which could include movement of work to alternative locations and/or movement of staff to alternative locations for the work to be performed.

We are also currently engaging with third-party suppliers over their approach to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, to help reduce any potential impact on Zellis and our customers.

Changes to legislation

We have been closely monitoring the legislative announcements by the UK and Republic of Ireland governments which may affect our customers during the coronavirus outbreak.

Below is a short summary of these changes (information correct as at 27th March 2020):

i. Changes to UK legislation

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

With effect from 13th March 2020, SSP of £94.25 per week (increasing to £95.85 per week from 6th April 2020) will be paid from day one instead of day four for coronavirus-related absences for at least eight months. All other sickness absences that are not connected to coronavirus or self-isolation to prevent spread of this disease will still be subject to a three-day waiting period for SSP. We have released ResourceLink 23b U02 to deliver the software changes required to process these new rules (see more information below).

Online sick notes

As of 20th March 2020, the government is operating a service to automate the issuing of sick notes via NHS 111. Under the new system, people are be able to provide a note to their employer as evidence of absence from work, without having face-to-face contact with GP services.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furloughed workers)

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support organisations through this period of disruption caused by coronavirus. This includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, under which all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

Some details of the UK government furlough scheme were published late on 26th March. We’re working urgently on updating our software, but there are also some steps that any organisation can take in the meantime to prepare. We’re planning two webinars next week - on 31st March and again on 2nd April - to guide our customers through this, and by then we hope to have greater clarity on some of the outstanding detail from the government.

What our software solution will enable for furloughed workers

There is quite a lot of complexity in the government’s solution, as well as some missing details. We are looking to ensure our solution assists our customers as follows:

  • Determine the average pay in line with HMRC’s guidelines, this means:

    • For full-time and part-time salaried employees, the grant will be based on their actual salary, before tax, paid in February.
    • For employees with irregular working hours, their reference pay is the higher of: average monthly pay for the 2019/20 tax year and the pay from the same month in the prior year.
  • A report that will allow Zellis customers to pull together all the data for payments made to employees, that are eligible under the job retention scheme, allowing organisations to recoup 80% of salary & wages plus allowable employer’s NI and employer’s pension contributions.

As part of this solution, we will also look at ways in which we can help customers with any retrospective claims (back-dated to 1st March 2020). The government have set expectations that furlough payments will not be received by organisations until 21st April 2020.

How Zellis customers can prepare

In advance of a software update becoming available, Zellis customers can start to prepare the data by recording the following information into a spreadsheet:

  • Identify furloughed employees and details of any actions taken to-date or will be taken ahead of the above-mentioned solution becoming available.
  • Record the start and end dates for each period the employee is furloughed.
  • Review which pay element IDs can be included as part of the claim.
  • Familiarise yourself with the HMRC guidance listed below:

Next steps

  • Zellis customers can sign up to one of our two webinars next week, where we will walk through our solution and the government’s plan for furlough, by clicking here.
  • We plan to release our software update within about two weeks. We’ll be keeping Zellis customers updated though, as and when we can be more precise on the timing.

ii. Changes to Republic of Ireland legislation

Illness Benefit

Employees will not have to wait six days to receive Illness Benefit and will receive a new, higher level of sick pay of €305 per week. This applies to employees who have been diagnosed with coronavirus or are self-isolating. It will last for two weeks or, if positively tested, the duration of the illness. We have released ResourceLink 23b U02 to deliver the software changes required to process these new rules (see more information below).

Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme/Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme

On 15th March, the government announced the Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme to allow employers to make a payment to workers who were temporarily laid off. This has subsequently been superseded by the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, which is expected to last for 12 weeks from 26th March 2020, and provides for a significant increase on the €203 per employee payment that previously applied.

Further information relating to the wage subsidy scheme and how to register can be found on the Revenue website.

The wage subsidy scheme will be operated by Revenue, rather than Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, and enables employees, whose employers are affected by the pandemic, to receive financial support directly from their employer.

The scheme is confined to employees who were paid between 1st February and 15th March 2020 (inclusive), and who were contained on a PAYE submission from the employer to Revenue with pay dates between these two dates.

Note that employers will have to meet strict criteria in order to qualify for the scheme and they should make an assessment with regard to their eligibility before attempting to register for this scheme with Revenue.

We are urgently developing a solution within ResourceLink to manage the payments to employees who may temporarily not be working or may have reduced hours and/or reduced pay as a result of the impact of coronavirus (see more information below).

Emergency software updates

We have developed ResourceLink 23b U02 to deliver the software changes required to process the new rules for SSP in the UK and Illness Benefit in the Republic of Ireland:

  • It is mandatory for customers who run UK payrolls.
  • It is optional for customers who run only Republic of Ireland payrolls and who use the Illness Benefit deductions against the sickness scheme via Leave Management.

ResourceLink has been enhanced to allow UK and Republic of Ireland customers to manage the different sick pay requirements for coronavirus-related illnesses.

However, please note that ResourceLink 23b U02 does not include functionality to process the Republic of Ireland’s Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme. For ResourceLink customers, more information about the way in which the solution is expected to work is available in knowledgebase article KB0013592. We anticipate the software update for this will be made available on Tuesday 31st March 2020, but we will be publishing further information about this and sharing with customers in due course.

Further information and support

We will continue to watch carefully for new developments as the coronavirus situation unfolds, and adapt our approach accordingly. Please continue to check the Zellis website, the Zellis support portal (if you are a Zellis customer), and our email communications for further updates, advice and information in the coming weeks.

We also want to remind you of our services which can provide additional payroll and HR administration support during this time. Visit our page on coronavirus to find out more about the ways we can help.

We also advise you to look at official government resources to find out more about how you can receive additional business support:

UK government: Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for employees, employers and businesses

Republic of Ireland government: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information for Employers and Employees

If you are already a Zellis customer, for specific requests and urgent support, please contact your Account Manager in the first instance.

Want to learn more?

If you’d like to discover more about ResourceLink or how our people can help you transform your payroll and HR operations, we’d love to talk.

Talk to us

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Looking for award-winning employee benefits? Technology and services that recognise and reward your employees? Speak with the team at Benefex. If you're a small or growing business with payroll and HR requirements, Moorepay can help you get ahead.

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