What is a “COVID-secure” workplace?

empty officeWhen announcing that those who could not work from home should be encouraged to return to work, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that these workplaces should be “COVID-secure”. As a contractor, you may well find yourself returning to your clients’ place of work over the coming days or weeks, so how do you know if where you are working is COVID-secure?

The government recently published guidance for different types of workplaces, making it straightforward to check and see what you should expect from any workplace you visit, whether it’s an office, a lab, or a plant.

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How to tackle your commute as lockdown eases

Commute image smallerWith some lockdown easement measures now underway, some businesses are re-starting and asking employees who are unable to work from home to return to the workplace while observing strict social distancing measures.

What this means for contractors will depend entirely on sector and skillset. If your client is returning to the workplace and they wish you to resume your project, then the advice from the government is to continue working from home if you can. However, if your role requires you to be on site then you may find yourself travelling to and from your client as you were before lockdown.

The thing that seems to have most people worried in this instance is the commute, especially with the government advice being to only use public transport as a last resort. So, how can you tackle your commute to your client during the lockdown easing period?

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Remember to apply for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Young man working with laptop, man's hands on notebook computer, business person at workplaceAlthough the majority of Kingsbridge’s customers operate as limited companies and, therefore, are not eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) to assist with loss of income due to COVID-19, we know some of our sole traders will be able to apply. The scheme is now open to applicants – if you think you might be eligible and haven’t applied yet, it’s definitely worth a try. We walk you through what you need to know.

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IR35 reform confirmed for 2021 after House of Commons debate for further delay

IR35 Reform 2021Yesterday afternoon, the House of Commons held a lively debate over whether the private sector IR35 reforms should be extended by another 2 years. No fewer than 7 MPs gave passionate arguments against the off-payroll rules being rolled out as they currently are on behalf of their constituents, but no vote was held and the IR35 reform remains slated to go ahead on 6th April 2021.  

Limited company contractors and anti-IR35 campaigners alike are left disappointed but unsurprised by this inaction, with many hoping the 12-month delay brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic would be used to properly review and amend the off-payroll rules. Financial Secretary Jesse Norman made it clear that there is no intention to revisit the legislation, despite the recent scathing House of Lords’ report and ongoing outcry against the tax measure.  

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Homeschooling: Tips for parents

Homeschooling Tips SmallerA couple of weeks ago, we posted a blog on homeschooling resources to help parents navigate the tricky world of home education during lockdown. Many parents have suddenly found themselves in the role of teacher and this aimed to signpost them to some useful, curriculum-appropriate resources to help them plan and execute lessons. This blog focuses more on the ‘how?’ than the ‘what?’ – ‘how on earth do I keep them focused on lessons until this is over?’

By now, you’ll have been homeschooling for a good few weeks, so whether you’re looking for tips to reinvigorate your lessons, or you’ve already thrown in the towel and want to get started again, we have some ideas for you.

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Home exercise for lockdown

Home Exercise SmallerThere’s no doubt that lockdown is causing us to be more sedentary. Those who normally attend their local gym or swimming pool have found they no longer can go. Even those of us who are a bit less active are finding our usual walk to the train station has vanished, and children who are used to scrabbling up slides and climbing frames every day have found they are now restricted to the back garden – if they’re lucky enough to have one.

But exercise is vital not only to our physical health, but also our mental wellbeing. With the recent Government announcement that outside exercise is now unlimited, albeit with restrictions, there’s no better time than now to get started. Of course, with these new changes, there are understandably only certain activities you can do, whilst still maintaining social distancing with people outside your household.

So how do you keep fit during lockdown? We’ve compiled a list of ideas and resources to help you and your family exercise during the COVID-19 crisis.

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Differentiating days during lockdown

Differentiating Days Image SmallerSince lockdown began, we’ve all been there a few times: it’s some time during the middle of the week but without checking our phones you have absolutely no idea what day it is. Meanwhile weekdays and weekends bleed into each other until there doesn’t feel like much point in having a weekend at all.

This feeling of sameness can be a contributing factor to low mood, so it’s important to find ways to differentiate the days and separate the week from the weekend. We’ve pulled together some tips to help you do just that.

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Be Tax Savvy: File Early In 2020

GoSimpleTax

You might think it unusual that, almost immediately after the Budget and with the previous tax year only just behind us, we’re recommending that you submit your tax return.

However, the facts speak for themselves: filing just short of the deadline is a dangerous game. HMRC is under pressure, you may not have the documents you need, and it doesn’t exactly leave you much time to save for your tax bill. The ongoing pandemic adds another great reason to make sure your taxes are in order well ahead of time, with HMRC ramping up compliance efforts and generally being more vigilant than ever with the self-employed.

Filing now, on the other hand, solves all of the above and steers you clear of any late-filing penalties. But don’t just take our word for it. We’ve asked Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax to explain the benefits of filing early in full detail below.

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Why business insurances are more important than ever during COVID-19

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Despite 
the shifting political landscape and legislative reform of recent years, there’s been a marked rise in contracting during that time. We now face an unprecedented situation on a global scale in the form of COVID-19. While the almost inevitable lean towards self-employment will continue when normality resumes, those already contracting may face challenging times over the next few months. 

While coronavirus has placed us in unchartered waters, the past has taught us that widespread economic uncertainty goes hand in hand with an increase in insurance claims. You, like many businesses, may be clamping down on expenditure, and feel that not renewing your business insurances is one way to save cash; this could prove counterproductive. 

There are multiple reasons why it’s important to make sure you’re protectedperhaps now more than ever. 

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Taking control: 7 ways to protect your income during the pandemic

Boox ImageThe Covid-19 global pandemic has plunged us into a new reality, the likes of which none of us have ever experienced before. As we try to navigate these unsettling times, one of the most difficult aspects, health concerns aside, is income and finances.

With so many industries shut down, the UK’s army of contractors, freelancers and small businesses are not only worried about their cash flow in the now, but are understandably fearful for the future and how they will weather the storm.

Boox outline 5 ways to protect your business income during the coronavirus pandemic:

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