Statement on coronavirus (COVID-19)

An official statement from Zellis on coronavirus.


Aug 25th 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 since the early days after the pandemic was declared by the WHO.
  • 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 by staff.
  • 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 (and 12 months for NHS and frontline businesses), 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 one of the webinars that are regularly hosted by Benefex. Find out more here.

iii. Business continuity planning and disaster recovery

We have enacted the necessary business continuity plans (BCP) and disaster recovery plans for all Zellis sites, including ensuring almost all colleagues can perform their duties from home.

We have also engaged 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 announcements by the UK and Irish governments which may affect our customers during the coronavirus outbreak.

Below is a short summary of these changes (information correct as of 10th June 2020).

i. Changes to UK legislation

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

A new statutory instrument (2020 No. 287) has been introduced to address SSP changes to cope with the outbreak of coronavirus-related illnesses and self-isolation. The Department for Work and Pensions have followed this up by confirming that, with effect from 13th March 2020, the 3-day waiting period for SSP is temporarily abolished for at least 8 months.

We released ResourceLink 23b U02 to deliver the software changes required to process these new rules.

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 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, including flexible furlough

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing from 1st July 2020, and will include the option for employees to be brought back to work part-time as a flexible furlough. There will also be changes to the way in which claims need to be made for employees who remain on full-time furlough.

Any furlough pay (full-time furlough or flexible furlough) must be input with the relevant start and end dates within a calendar month, so that the HMRC Furlough Claim task can accurately calculate amounts retrospectively and going forward.

Even if your employees are not returning to work just yet, where pay periods span a month end there needs to be two temporary pay data entries for furlough pay. For example:

Pay period 6th June 2020 to 5th July 2020, total furlough pay: £2307.68

  • Furlough pay, 6th June 2020 to 30th June 2020: £1895.59
  • Furlough pay, 1st July 2020 to 5th July 2020: £412.09

The changes from 1st July also mean that reference pay, furlough pay, the cap, and the top-up must be proportioned according to the employee's normal hours, furlough hours, and worked hours.

The calculation of normal hours is similar to that for reference pay. For example, for salaried employees you take the contract hours from the pay period immediately before 19th March 2020, and for varied employees you take the higher of the same period last year, or the average over 2019/2020.

There are tasks within ResourceLink that can assist you with the comparison of last year’s hours and average over 2019/20. And you can adapt the Wage Calculation Extract, to add rows for different months, and columns for hours and flexible furlough pay.

We're currently working on updates to ResourceLink 23b and ResourceLink 24a to accommodate these changes and expect them to be available by 24th July 2020.

ii. Changes to Republic of Ireland legislation

Changes to Illness Benefit

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection announced changes to Illness Benefit, including the removal of waiting days for coronavirus-related absences, and an increase in the rate of payment. We made ResourceLink 23b U02 available for customers last week who run Republic of Ireland payrolls and who use the Illness Benefit deductions against the sickness scheme via Leave Management.

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 (TWSS), which is expected to last for 12 weeks from 26th March 2020, and provides for a significant increase in the €203 per employee payment that previously applied. The TWSS will be operated by Revenue, rather than the 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.

Further information relating to the TWSS and how to register can be found on the Revenue website.

In order to support our customers to manage these changes, we made ResourceLink 23a U05 and ResourceLink 23b U03 available to process the new payments for employees who have been temporarily laid off, but have not ceased employment.

We provided full details of the new functionality in the release notes, and released an overview video to take customers through it.

In addition to this learning material, customers can request an RCS application consultancy session to guide them through these changes.

Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme Phase 2: Updated rules with effect from 4th May 2020

On 15th April, the Minister for Finance announced changes to the TWSS that came into effect from 4th May 2020, whereby additional average net pay earnings bands have been introduced. Customers can find specific information on the net pay earnings bands in this article on our customer support portal.

Revenue began issuing CSV files to employers from 4th May, which contain data that may be used by employers in their payroll software. These values will include maximum subsidy value allowed for each employee and the maximum top-up value allowed. For employees who are in the €586+ category, Revenue will supply a tiered range of subsidy and top-up values and, depending on current gross payments to these employees, the employer will decide which subsidy and top-up values (if paying top-up) to use, based on the table above.

We made ResourceLink 23a U06 and ResourceLink 23b U05 available to process the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme rules that were effective from 4th May 2020.

Employees returning to work following maternity or adoptive leave

Additionally, the Minister also announced on 29th May that Revenue will be implementing a change to the TWSS to accommodate employees returning to work following maternity or adoptive leave.

Under the current scheme rules, a subsidy payment is based on each employee’s normal net weekly pay for January and February 2020. Consequently, this meant that employees returning to work following maternity or adoptive leave were not eligible for a TWSS payment, where they were not on the payroll on 29th February 2020, or where the employer was not paying wages to the employee who was on such leave in either January or February.

Revenue has confirmed that the necessary processes to enable employers to receive appropriate subsidy payments in respect of affected employees are expected to be operational from 12th June 2020.

Retrospection for employees retained on payroll

From 26th March 2020, retrospection will apply for employees who were retained on payroll by their employers. No retrospection will apply for employees who were ceased from payroll and in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), as the individual was already in receipt of income support payments. However, employers may rehire these employees, and the TWSS will be applied for these cases once their PUP claim has been ceased with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP).

Neither of these announcements require software changes and will be addressed via the TWSS CSV files downloaded from Revenue Online Service (ROS) commencing 12th June 2020.

Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme: latest updates

From mid-September 2020, Revenue will be accepting reconciliation CSV files from employers with the details of the actual subsidy paid to each of their employees per payslip. A facility will be made available on Revenue Online Services (ROS) to upload these files and to request a reconciliation report from Revenue. This facility will be made available via a new TWSS Reconciliation menu option from the Additional Services widget on ROS.

ResourceLink 23b U09 and ResourceLink 24a U02 are now available to process the reconciliation phase of the TWSS.

Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme to be replaced by the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme

The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) in its current form will end 31st August 2020. The Minister for Finance announced on 24th July 2020 that the TWSS has been replaced by the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) from the 1st September 2020.

The purpose of the EWSS is to subsidise employment creation, by way of a grant to a firm, whose turnover is 70% or less than pre-pandemic levels, for each employee. Both schemes will run in parallel from July 31st until the TWSS concludes at the end of August to provide additional flexibility to employers with new hires and seasonal workers who were not previously eligible to be paid via TWSS and who may now qualify for EWSS.

ResourceLink 23b U09 and ResourceLink 24a U02 are now available to process the EWSS.

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.

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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.