HABIC COVID-19 Update 16th Mar 2020

HABIC : COVID-19 Update 16/03/2020

Advice and precautions for hair and beauty businesses in Ireland.

Advice and precautions for hair and beauty in Ireland.

Throughout this email you will find updated links to important relevant information, plans and guidelines to assist you.

We urge you to fully review the below information.

Ireland is in a COVID-19 Delay Phase which is essential for the protection of life. The HSE and our Government are advising the IMPORTANCE of Social Distancing. 

HABIC fully encourages all organisations/ members to follow the guidance of the HSE, HPSC, WHO, GOV.ie and strictly implement the Social Distancing.
 
As of 16/03/2020 there are 169 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland and two deaths.
 
Please note: It is important to operate on a factual basis and take your information from a reliable sources HSE, HPSC, WHO, GOV.ie
 

COVID-19 is demanding difficult decisions by Business Owners.

Salon Owners

Many salons nationally are making the very hard decisions to close their doors. For many salons they cannot implement the requirement of social distance and are concerned for the safely of their clients, employees and families.

There is also a noticeable social pressure building from the general public for the closure of publicly facing organisations, this is felt by local businesses, in local communities. 

These decisions are hard for everyone involved but particularly for employers and employees, anxiety is running high and people are concerned. Therefore, is it also essential to priorities your mental health – Be Kind, unplug from social media, news, etc. and take some time to get some fresh air at an appropriate social distance. As a society, this too Shall Pass and we will come through this but it is important to fully follow the guidelines. 

For those business that will continue to trade; it is vital to: 

  • increase all social distancing measures,
  • increase hand hygiene, 
  • increase respiratory etiquette,
  • ensure safe working practices for employees
  • implement COVID-19 policies and procedures 
  • keep yourself and your team fully informed of the rapidly changing climate. 

Payments for Employees

Payments for employees
If you find yourself having to make a decision about business closure and staff, the following choices are required;

  1. Will you continue to pay your staff the minimum payment of €203 and claim a rebate from government?
  2. Will you place your workers on short term/ temporary lay-off or short time / Reduced hours?

Government Employer Request (Source: www.gov.ie)

Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme is for employers, who continue to pay workers a minimum of €203.00 in the event of business closure; for more info Click HERE

Government are encouraging employers to retain employees where possible. To support this, the Department is setting up a refund scheme for employers who pay staff. This scheme will repay employers the €203 per week for each worker who would otherwise have been laid off in a situation where a business has to cease trading due to HSE advice on ‘social distancing’.

This means that workers retain their link with employers and there is no need for them personally to submit a jobseeker’s claim. Refunds will take some time to process but in the meantime the Banks will provide working capital finance in the form of overdrafts or short term loans to cover costs.

HABIC staff are working extremely hard to ensure that SME’s gain the support they require in a timely manner. Once we have details on this COVID-19 Refund scheme and the process, we will update our members.

If you are going to make a payment of €203.00 for each employee, please advise your employees that they do not need to join the live register.

The option outlined above may not be possible for many micro SME’s with limited cashflow, therefore temporary lay-off may be the only option available. If this is the case, please see the most up to date information available below. Emergency Government Supports (source gov.ie)

What is the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

This new payment will be available to all employees and the self-employed who have lost employment due to a downturn in economic activity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The payment has a simple one–page application form and will be paid for a period of 6 weeks at a flat rate payment of €203 per week for jobseekers. It is designed to quickly deliver a social welfare payment to the unemployed and provide income security during this 6-week period.

Individuals applying for the payment will be required to apply for the normal jobseeker’s payments within this 6-week period. Once this normal jobseeker claim is subsequently received, the department will process these claims and accommodate payments at that time. This will involve backdating increased payments for certain customers.

The Department of employment Affairs and Social Protection ask that members of the public assist them over the next few days by applying for income support from the department, such as the full Jobseeker’s Payment, through their online channel mywelfare.ie.

COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment Click

  • follow the link
  • download the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment: How to claim the emergency payment document
  • print the Form,
  • complete it
  • free-post it to the Department
  • DO NOT VISIT the INTRO OFFICES

Finances (Source : Microfinance Ireland)

COVID-19 Business Loan available from Micro Finance Ireland Click HERE

The COVID-19 Business Loan from Microfinance Ireland is a government initiative to support small businesses through the current period of uncertainty and protect job creation or sustainment in Ireland.
If your business is impacted or may be impacted by COVID-19 resulting in a reduction of 15% or more in actual or projected turnover or profit, AND you are having difficulty in accessing finance from commercial lending providers, the MFI COVID-19 Business Loan may be able to help your business.

In addition, Local Enterprise Offices in every county provide a range of business supports for micro-enterprises including business continuity and preparedness advisory supports connected to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Contact your Local Enterprise Office for more information.

Government Supports for COVID-19 impacted businesses (Click HERE : Source : www.gov.ie)

The COVID-19 crisis is presenting immediate and severe financial challenges for businesses.
Here are some practical steps you can take:

  1. Talk to your bank. All the banks have announced that they will offer flexibility to their customers, and they may be able to provide payment holidays or emergency working capital
    facilities.
  2. Take immediate steps to manage your cash flow. Look for scope to:
    – Lower variable costs
    – Extend your payables
    – Expedite your receivables
    – Explore supply chain financing options
  3. Use available government supports for working capital.
    – The Credit Guarantee Scheme supports loans up to €1 million for periods of up to 7
    years. Applications can be made to AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank. Eligibility
    criteria apply.
    – Micro enterprises, can access COVID-19 loans of up to €50,000 from
    MicroFinance Ireland. Loans are available at an interest rate of between 6.8% and
    7.8%. Businesses can apply through their Local Enterprise Office or directly at
    microfinanceireland.ie. Eligibility criteria apply.
    – The €200m SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme for eligible businesses will
    be available within the next week. Maximum loan size will be €1.5 million (first
    €500,000 unsecured) and the maximum interest rate will be 4%. Applications can be
    made through the SBCI website at sbci.gov.ie . Eligibility criteria apply.
    – A €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring
    Scheme is available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms that
    need to restructure or transform their business.
  4. Get advice from your accountant or use the advisory support available from your local
    enterprise office (LEO).
  5. Check if your insurance policy covers you for an interruption in your business, or a
    temporary business closure, caused by COVID-19
  6. If you have concerns about your ability to pay your tax liabilities speak to the Revenue
    Commissioners
    , who have advised:
    “On an on-going basis, Revenue engages with viable businesses experiencing temporary cash
    flow or trading difficulties that affect the timely payment of tax. Revenue works very
    successfully with businesses that engage early to resolve their tax payment difficulties.
    Revenue will engage with any viable business that experiences temporary cashflow
    difficulties, including difficulties arising from exceptional circumstances such as the COVID-
    19 (Coronavirus) outbreak.” See www.revenue.ie. Revenue has also posted advice for businesses experiencing trading difficulties as a result of COVID-19. This includes information on tax returns, the application of late payment interest, debt enforcement, tax clearance and customs.
  7. Be aware of other government supports available. For example:
    • Employees of businesses that need to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Short-time Work Support.
    • Government is asking those employers who have ceased trading if at all possible, to continue to pay workers during this period – at least at the jobseeker rate of €203 per week. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is setting up a refund scheme for employers to pay staff the €203 per week for each worker. This means that workers retain their link with employers and there is no need for them to submit a Jobseekers claim.
    • For those workers who have been laid off without pay, there is no need to visit an Intreo Centre. The DEASP is introducing a new support payment for the self-employed who have lost business and to those who have lost employment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. This support pays a flat rate of €203 per week for a six-week period. Applications can be made using this one-page application form.
    • The full range of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Local Enterprise Office and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant supports will be available to firms to help with strategies to innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness.
    • The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation will provide a joint First Responder support service through the Intreo Offices and development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland in each region to provide tailored supports for impacted firms, with objective of avoiding mass lay-offs and buying time for firms to work through the short-term disruptions.
    • A Finance in Focus grant of €7,200 will be available to Enterprise Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta clients that want to access consultancy support to undertake immediate finance reviews.
    • In addition to their current range of business supports to microenterprises, LEOs can also provide business continuity vouchers from €2,500 to assist in preparing any business continuity issues that arise in the current challenging environment. 
    • Enterprise Ireland has published a COVID-19 Business Response Plan.

The Department has updated its checklist on Business Continuity Planning which provides a checklist of preparatory actions for businesses in responding to COVID-19 and other relevant information and links on COVID-19.

Business Continuity Planning

As a public facing service industry operating in close contact with the public, it is important that you make provision for your business. It is important to have a Business Continuity Plan in place. Again we urge you to take the time to consider this plan now if you have not already done so. Also, to research and review the below information to protect your organisation, your staff and yourself.

You may have already closed your doors, or are on the verge of doing so. Either way, you now need to think about the Continuity of your business and how you can best protect your business in the long run.

Start to carefully review your bills, and examine how you can service these bills in the short term or if you can freeze bills. It is vital that you are proactive at this time as a business owner/ leader.

Business Continuity Planning tools and resources:

Checklist of preparatory actions in responding to COVID-19 (Source dbei.gov.ie) for businesses who want to plan ahead with regard to coronavirus can be found HERE.

A Business Continuity Plan template can be found (Source dbei.gov.ie ) HERE

Guidance on COVID-19 for employers and employees (Source hpsc.ie) dealing with the general public found HERE

Printable information COVID-19 posters and Hand washing posters are available HERE. (Source hse.ie)  HSE also advise putting up these official COVID-19 information posters:

Information for Employers and Employees in regard to COVID-19 from the Citizen Information Office can be found HERE (Source Citizen Information)

Support from the Workplace Relations Commission can be found HERE and contact information for the WRC can be found HERE

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation announced supports for Businesses Impacted by Covid-19, including; (Source; dbei.ie) for more information click HERE

Revenue

If as an organisation you are experience difficulty in making payments to Revenue. Engage early with Revenue- Key advice to businesses experiencing tax payment problems (Source; revenue.ie) For additional information Click HERE:

New information has been added to revenue.ie: Read More. It includes additional information for SMEs:

  • Tax Returns: businesses experiencing temporary cash flow difficulties should continue to send in tax returns on time.
  • Application of Interest: the application of interest on late payments is suspended for January/February VAT and both February and March PAYE (Employers) liabilities.
  • Debt Enforcement: All debt enforcement activity is suspended until further notice.
  • Tax Clearance: current tax clearance status will remain in place for all businesses over the coming months.
  • Understand what are the ‘high level’ impacts an outbreak could have on your business, and prioritise the most impactful ones.
  • Consult within your staff or your employer, you need to talk to them immediately and be pro-active about the situation at hand. This is anxious time for all, engaging with your team will help eliminate some of this anxiety.
  • Implement Operating policies and guidelines in regard to COVID-19.
  • Consult with your suppliers to ensure that you have continuity of supply of goods is essential.
  • If you find yourself in financial difficulty, it is wise to consult with the Revenue, the banks, landlords and suppliers to see what measures can be facilities to avoid penalties, closure or job losses.
  • Consider where you would be able to access replacements workers if your own workforce was to be significantly impacted.
  • Review your employment contracts and contact the WRC and your HR provider for professional advice.  ISME have issued advice to employers HERE. The HR Suite have issues advice to employers HERE

Protecting against the Coronavirus

According to the HSE, the coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets. You could get the virus if you come into close contact with someone who has the virus and is coughing or sneezing, or touch surfaces that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed on.
It can take up to 14 days for symptoms of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) to show. 

Symptoms may include:

  • a cough
  • shortness of breath
  • breathing difficulties
  • fever (high temperature)

Measures to protect yourself and those in your business from contracting the virus include covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze. Also by washing your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub:

  • after coughing and sneezing
  • after toilet use
  • before eating
  • before and after preparing food

HABIC: STAY INFORMED, STAY SAFE

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