Supported Business Covid-19 update (14 April 2020)

Supported Business Covid-19 update (14 April 2020)

This latest update requires urgent consideration and action from Supported Businesses (SBs).

DWP remain unable to provide guidance on submission of TESG claims.

DWP continue to state that TESG will not be claimable for any employee who is not at work (other than those on sick leave)

Summary of action needed by Supported Businesses

  1. Read this update in full
  2. Formally ask DWP for clarity on how to submit March’s TESG claim without wet signatures
  3. If you have already done this and not received an answer, use the AtW complaints procedure to raise the issue
  4. Irrespective of this submit March’s claim with a covering statement explaining why wet signatures are not possible.
  5. Respond to DWP’s survey using the definitions they have provided.
  6. Undertake the Survey Monkey as requested by BASE
  7. Provide SBSG (by e-mailing with specific example of 
    1. How the lack of TESG will affect your cash flow and put employees at risk
    2. Case studies of the type of support that you continue to provide supported employees whilst they are at home. 
  8. All SBs to ensure they are taking the necessary action to be able to participate in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.



Urgent Issues and Actions needed

Submission of March TESG claims

The SBSG has for three weeks been lobbying DWP and the Minister for a relaxation for the need for ‘wet signatures’ during this period when most TESG recipients are at home following Government advice. We continue to be told that DWP are waiting for ‘clearance’ for such flexibilities. At the same time, we understand that ‘wet signature holidays’ have been permitted for other DWP funded activities such as the Work and Health programme. We will continue to lobby for the required flexibilities. What we need from SBs:

  • Contact DWP requesting instruction on how to submit your Claim
  • Where a SB has already contacted DWP and not received an appropriate response to submit a formal complaint through the Access to Work process.
  • Submit your March claim with a clear statement that where signatures are not present this is a result of you and your employees following Government requirements on social distancing.


The availability of TESG for employees at home.

DWP’s current position is that if an employee is Furloughed, they are not entitled to TESG. It is important for SBs to note that DWP are defining Furlough as a situation where – ‘If you and your employer both agree, your employer might be able to keep you on the payroll if they’re unable to operate or have no work for you to do because of the coronavirus.’. It is therefore irrespective of whether you intend to claim under the Government Job Retention Scheme or not – at present if the employee is not attending their place of work TESG is not claimable. DWP are not currently recognising that SBs are providing additional support to their staff, whilst they are at home which goes beyond that provided by a standard employer.

The SBSG is in constant dialogue to attempt to get these interpretations reversed.

What we need from SBs

  • Submit or resubmit your return to the DWP survey on the status of TESG employees. It is important that you use the definitions provided by DWP rather than your own interpretation of ‘self-isolation’, ‘shielded’ and ‘furloughed’
  • Submit the requested Survey Monkey from BASE. We need your information to build the case. This needs to include specific details of the financial implications of not being paid TESG. This needs to be specific as to when cash flow becomes critical rather than general such as ‘it will make things difficult’ We need examples of when cash will run out and when redundancies will follow. Information we can use in discussions to Ministers and DWP. We also need specific examples and case studies of the support provided to employees at home. Please provide these as a matter of urgency.


Local Authority (LA) SBs and Furlough Job Retention Scheme.

We understand that some LASBs have taken the position that they are not entitled to apply for the Government’s furlough Job Retention Scheme or simply have chosen not to do so. SBSG are clear that LASBs are entitled to claim this grant funding and encourage all SBs who are not, to urgently reconsider this position. We are already finding that Government, DWP, banks and funding agencies are less receptive to providing additional financial support if organisations are not fully utilising the provision that already exist. If your HR or legal departments are advising against claiming please challenge this.


For general guidance SB continue to be directed to

BASE also signposts to useful resources at

BASE has recently distributed Guidance for Supported Businesses.

In Scotland SBs should also check out support through the ‘Third sector Resilience Fund’.

In Wales SBs should look out for the announcement of additional help for the 3rd Sector on  

In England SBs need to consider if it is appropriate to apply for funding under the National Lottery Community Fund or National Emergency Trust.




Guidance for Supported Businesses

We have produced this guidance as there is a lot of confusion about the management of employees who may be self-isolating or shielding. It is correct to the best of our knowledge but circumstances are moving fast and so we recommend that you read the latest Government advice. You can find this at and at

Please let us know how the pandemic is impacting on your business by completing the survey at


In work

Still in employment and in the workplace or working from home. As things stand, DWP are saying that only people attending work will be eligible for continued payment of the Transitional Employer Support Grant (TESG).

Sick (not coronavirus related)

Absent from work due to sickness that is not related to the coronavirus.


Absent from work due to having Coronavirus symptoms:


Shielding is a measure to protect extremely vulnerable people by minimising interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others. People who have a learning disability but NO underlying health conditions would not normally be shielding.

Vulnerable people will receive a letter from the NHS to say they should take extra steps to protect (or 'shield') themselves because of an underlying health condition. Some people have not received letters and should contact their GP or hospital clinician to discuss what steps they should take.

It is the employee’s choice to decide whether to follow the measures advised.

Those who are extremely vulnerable should not leave their homes, and within their homes should minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household for a period of 12 weeks.

  • Employers should support staff following shielding guidelines. This might be a distressing or difficult time, so it's important for employers to keep in touch during any absence.

You’ll find advice about shielding



The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is available to employers, including local authorities, who use PAYE payroll from 28 February 2020. This may include:

  • employees
  • workers
  • those who do casual work
  • those who have zero-hours contracts

To be eligible for the scheme, employers will need to:

  • select and tell (‘designate’) the employees affected that they’re furloughed
  • keep employees on the employer’s payroll
  • make sure furloughs last at least 3 weeks

You can furlough the following employees:

  • Individuals on sick leave or isolating due to COVID-19 after they finish their sick leave/isolation.
  • Individuals who are in a vulnerable group and who are shielding in line with Government guidance (including those who need to stay at home with an individual who is shielding)
  • Employees who cannot work because they have to care for children or other family members.

Employers must select employees for furlough in a fair way to avoid any discrimination. If an employer cannot reach an agreement, they may want to change the written terms in an employee’s contract. If there are more than 20 employees affected, employers will need to consult staff representatives (‘collectively consult’). You can download a template furlough letter.

They also need to get agreement from the employee to do this, unless it’s covered by a clause in the employment contract. They need to clearly explain how much the employee will get paid in total. 

The government will pay employers 80% of wages plus employer pension and NI contributions. The employer should decide whether they'll top up the wages to 100%, but they do not have to. If the employer decides not to top up the wages, they should tell the employee and explain why not.

If an employee disagrees with their employer's decision, they'll need to talk to their employer and try to come to an agreement.