Financial support for nurseries for coronavirus / COVID-19

What financial support is there for my nursery? Child playing at nursery

  • Statutory Sick Pay to be paid from day one of self-isolation/illness
  • The cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for those with coronavirus / COVID-19 will be refunded by the government in full for businesses with fewer than 250 employees
  • Businesses can defer payments for HMRC “Time to pay” – a helpline will be made available
  • A business interruption loan scheme of up to £1.2m will be made available to support SMEs – these will be guaranteed by Government
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - grants to businesses to cover up to 80% of employees’ salaries up to £2,500 per month
  • Business rates holiday for nurseries in England.

What is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. You can submit one claim every three weeks, which is the minimum length an employee can be furloughed for. The Government expects the scheme to be up and running by the end of April, and claims can be backdated until 1 March if applicable.  

To access the scheme you will need to:

  • Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
  • Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)
  • HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.

You can find further information here.​

Business Rates - Engand

We have also seen further information published on the Business Rates holiday for nurseries. This applies to any business on the Ofsted Early Years register where part of the building is used for the delivery of the EYFS.

If you rent your nursery building you may want to contact your landlord to make them aware of this and we have also prepared a template letter you may also wish to use to ask for a rent payment holiday as well. 

Do we have to pay employees if they are medically advised to self-isolate?

Our legal helpline says:

Employees will be entitled to statutory sick pay if they are advised to self-isolate. Their employment contract may provide for enhanced pay.  

Employees will also be eligible for statutory sick pay if they are self-isolating as a result of members of their household who have Coronavirus symptoms.

Employers with less than 250 members of staff will be reimbursed for any statutory sick pay paid in relation to the first 14 days of sickness related to the Coronavirus.

The Government has suggested that statutory sick pay will be paid from day 1 for absence related to the Coronavirus.  We are waiting for further detail in relation to these provisions.

Do I have to pay my staff if I am forced to close suddenly?

If you have to close the nursery, generally speaking you would still be obliged to pay employees as you are not meeting your obligation to provide work. If you have a lay-off clause in their contract, you could invoke this in which case the employee would only receive statutory guaranteed pay. This is currently £29 per day (or less if the employee is paid less) and it is paid for the first week of work lost. It needs to be in the contract though so this should be checked.

As an alternative, the employees could take holiday but this would have to be by agreement as the situation of a sudden closure would not allow the employer to give sufficient notice to compel them to take the holiday.

If you are in any doubt, contact our legal helpline for members.

If we have to close our nursery, will we still get funding from our local authority?

In England the government will continue to fund early years entitlements for two, three and four-year-olds during any periods of nursery, preschool or childminder closures, or in instances where children cannot attend due to COVID-19.

The Scottish Government states that nurseries that received funding for statutory childcare would continue to receive that funding regardless of whether they were open or not, or if children were in or not. Read more here.

There have been no announcements for nurseries in Wales.

See all coronavirus support  

Disclaimer:  Any information above from our legal helpline is provided for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities.  This should not be treated as formal legal advice and no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Our legal helpline makes every reasonable effort to ensure this information is accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.