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COVID-19 – Information and Advice for Supply Teachers

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Further update 28th April:

Firstly, I would like to thank you for your patience during these difficult times. I appreciate that the last few weeks have been hugely worrying for you due to the upheaval and uncertainty brought to us all by the Coronavirus.

We have now written to all eligible candidates who qualify to be furloughed and have received your responses. If you were working via an Umbrella Company, we will not be able to furlough you – but would encourage you to discuss your options with your provider, who may be able to furlough you.

For those eligible candidates, our finance department has been working hard to calculate eligible claims and I am pleased to confirm that we are in a position to submit the first claim for your furlough pay on the HMRC online claims portal, which has now opened.

HMRC has confirmed that employers can only submit one claim in respect of each period of furlough and that claims cannot be added to or amended following submission.

We understand that HMRC is aiming to process eligible claims within 6 working days. Supply Desk will pay to you your furlough pay for each claim period (after necessary deductions such as tax, national insurance and pension contributions) by BACS shortly after receipt of the funds from HMRC. We will send you payslips in respect of your furlough pay which will detail the amount of furlough pay and the period of furlough to which it relates.

On the direct instruction of HMRC, we are calculating all claims under the Scheme on the basis of 80% of average weekly wages (including holiday pay) for the 2019 to 2020 tax year (or 80% of average weekly earnings (including holiday pay) since starting with Supply Desk for those candidates who commenced their engagement with Supply Desk after 6 April 2019), up to a maximum of £2,500 per month (which equates to £576.92 per week).

HMRC has notified us that this is the correct approach to take in respect of our agency workers whose earnings are not fixed, and where there are periods of non-working time (i.e. the school holidays and between working assignments).

Finally, I would like to thank you for your continued loyalty to Supply Desk.

We will continue to work hard to support you at this difficult time.

Stay safe, take care

Clare Othman – Managing Director

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Further update 30th March:

Further to last weeks’ communication, Supply Desk is currently working with our payroll software provider to apply the government criteria and determine which of our supply workers are eligible under the Scheme, and the quantum of individuals entitlement.

Please be assured that we are working as quickly as possible to assess this information in order that we can be ready to submit eligible claims when the government’s online claim service becomes available (which we understand is likely to be the end of April 2020).

If you could refrain from contacting branches regarding this matter until we issue further communication it would be very much appreciated. This will enable us to complete the ‘behind the scenes’ work on your behalf more quickly and efficiently.

We appreciate this is a difficult time for everyone. Supply Desk will contact you as soon as we have additional information and we will give further detail to our eligible supply workers over the coming days.

During these unprecedented times can I take this opportunity to say from all of the staff at Supply Desk, please stay safe and look after each other; together we will get through this.

Best wishes from everyone @ Supply Desk Ltd.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Update 26th March 2020:

On Friday 20 March 2020, the government announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme pursuant to which HMRC will reimburse up to 80% of the wage costs of “furloughed” workers. This guidance was updated on the 26th of March to include agency workers.

We are awaiting further clarification at this stage from the government / HMRC as is it not completely clear in light of the complexities of implementing for agency workers.

Please be rest assured if you are eligible for the scheme you will receive your entitlement.

We are receiving a high volume of calls and emails to branches and we have reduced workforce with schools closed, however please be assured we will contact you as soon as we have further clarification.

About COVID-19:

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus. The incubation period of COVID-19 is between 2 and 14 days. This means that if a person remains well 14 days after contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, it is unlikely that they have been infected.


  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

What to do if you have symptoms:

Stay at home for 7 days if you have either of the above symptoms. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. This will help to protect others in your community while you are infectious. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them you’re staying at home. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999. Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home. Please read the updated government guidance about staying at home. If you consider that you need to self-isolate, please notify your Branch. The government’s advice for Covid-19 in educational settings has also been updated and can be found here.

How to prevent the spread of infection:

  1. Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to.
  2. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue away immediately when you cough or sneeze, to reduce the spread of germs, . Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.
  3. Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.

Impact on the Education Sector:

Following the government’s announcement that schools in the UK will close from Friday 21st March until further notice in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Schools, colleges and nurseries will close to help slow the spread of the virus, which will help save lives and protect the most vulnerable. Schools will need to put provision in place for pupils of key coronavirus workers (such as NHS, police, social care and supermarket drivers and teachers) and vulnerable children including pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

Inevitably, this will have an impact on the availability of work for our supply staff, which we understand is very concerning. We want to assure you all that we are exploring all options and any alternative forms of work to support you through this difficult period of time.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP):

Subject to meeting the government’s eligibility and entitlement criteria, our candidates may be entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) if sick or self-isolating. To qualify for SSP through Supply Desk, a candidate must be either currently working on an assignment or pre-booked into a future assignment. Candidates who are not working on an assignment at the point they become sick or self-isolate cannot claim SSP from Supply Desk under the current criteria.

Financial support:

Any staff who are experiencing financial difficulties during this time should make a Universal Credit application as soon as possible if they haven’t already done so. Do not delay in making a claim!