A question that I get asked all the time since lockdown began is should an employer be paying a contribution for gas and electric costs for all employees working from home as their usage is now higher.
Legal, unless there is something in their employment contract that says you will, there is no precedent for this. Morally, well that’s a different story.
However, there a little tiny light of help for staff in the form of tax relief. I has been commonly known that self-employed people working from home can make deductions before tax for heating, lighting and some other home office costs but this is now also available to those working from home due to Coronavirus.
From the 6th April 2020 employees can claim the percentage of tax they pay from £6 per week without providing a breakdown of costs. So if they are in the 20% tax bracket they will receive 20% of £6 = £1.20 of tax relief per week that they work from home for any amount of time (this does not need to be full time). They can claim for more than this but they will need to provide receipts, contracts or other evidence of the exact cost.
There are a few conditions though – there always are!
To claim it must be that you have given the employees no other choice but to work from home i.e. your office has closed or all staff are on a rota system to work from home to comply with Covid risk assessments, they can not claim if you simply choose to work from home.
Employees must personally register with the Government Gateway and fill out a P87 form. Many PAYE employees will have never needed to register with the tax gateway before and the system can be confusing. However, they should only have to go through this process once as this will register with the tax code your payroll has and so the tax relief will be calculated in their salary.
It may not seem like much but as one large supermarket used to say – every little helps!