One in ten UK workers have asked their boss to work while on leave | UK News

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Nearly one in 10 workers whose wages were covered by the UK government said their bosses asked them to work while on leave, which was against the scheme’s rules.Criminal gangs have siphoned off nearly £ 2 billion of public funds allocated to help businesses and workers on leave, according to a report.

The revelations come in a review of the leave program by the National Audit Office, which praised officials for pushing through the high speed employment support programs, but said in their haste they could have left some doors open to fraudsters.

Auditors said HM Revenue and Customs should have made sure employees knew their employers were taking time off, so they could challenge potential fraud.

Level one – medium

  • The “rule of six” applies, which means that socializing in groups of more than six people is prohibited, whether indoors or outdoors.
  • Tradespeople can continue to go to work in a household and are not counted as part of the six person limit.
  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate, but pubs and restaurants must ensure that customers only consume food and drink when they are seated and closed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Takeout can continue to sell after 10 p.m. if ordered over the phone or online.
  • Schools and universities remain open.
  • Places of worship remain open but people should not mix with a group of more than six people.
  • Weddings and funerals can take place with restrictions on the number of people who can attend (15 and 30 respectively).
  • Exercise classes and organized sport can continue to take place outdoors and, if the rule of six is ​​followed, indoors.

Level two – high

  • People are prohibited from socializing with anyone outside of their home or supporting the bubble in any indoor environment.
  • Trades people can continue to work in a hostel.
  • The rule of six continues to apply for socializing outdoors, such as in a garden or public space like a park or beach.
  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate, but pubs and restaurants must ensure that customers only consume food and drink when they are seated and closed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Takeout can continue to sell after 10 p.m. if ordered online or over the phone.
  • Schools and universities remain open.
  • Places of worship remain open but people should not mix with a group of more than six people.
  • Weddings and funerals can take place with restrictions on the number of people who can attend (15 and 30 respectively).
  • Exercise classes and organized sport may continue to take place outdoors, but will only be allowed indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mingling with those they do not live with. (or with whom they don’t share a support bubble), or for the sport of young people or people with disabilities.
  • Travel is permitted to open facilities, for work, or for education, but people are advised to reduce the number of trips where possible.

Level three – very high

  • People are prohibited from socializing with people with whom they do not live or with whom they have not formed a supportive bubble, in an indoor setting, a private garden or in most open-air reception places and paid events.
  • Trades people can continue to work in a hostel.
  • The rule of six continues to apply to outdoor public spaces, such as parks, beaches, public gardens or sports venues.
  • Pubs and bars are only allowed to remain open to function as restaurants, in which case alcohol may only be served as part of a large meal.
  • Schools and universities remain open.
  • Places of worship remain open but domestic mixing is not allowed.
  • Weddings and funerals can take place with restrictions on the number of people present (15 and 30 respectively) but wedding receptions are not permitted.
  • The rules for exercise classes and organized sport are the same as in level 2. They can continue to take place outdoors but will only be allowed indoors if it is possible for people of avoid mingling with people they do not live with (or sharing bubble support with), or for youth or disability sport. However, in Merseyside, Gyms were ordered to close when they entered level 3.
  • Travel outside of a very high alert area or entering a very high alert area should be avoided, except for things such as work, education or personal services. youth, to meet family responsibilities or if you are traveling as part of a long trip.
  • Residents of a level 3 area should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, while people living in a level 1 or 2 area should avoid staying overnight in a level d area. very high alert.

Photograph: Peter Byrne / PA

About 9.6 million people have been put on leave thanks to the coronavirus job retention program, while an additional 2.6 million have been helped by the self-employment income support program.

The NAO said there was evidence that “the programs provided an effective bridge during the early stages of the pandemic, allowing some people to return to work when the national lockdown eased.”

At the end of July, around 5 million people were on leave, while unemployment was broadly stable at 4%.

However, the number of people on the payroll dropped by half a million between March and April, and the NAO also found that one in five people who were not on leave still saw their pay. or his reduced hours.

The NAO said the leave program was being implemented at breakneck speed at the start of the pandemic. The HMRC IT team typically need 18 months to complete major projects, but the leave program was up and running in four weeks.

But, as a result, HMRC and the Treasury had to accept a “greater than normal risk” of fraud and error. The tax office’s initial working estimate was a fraud and error rate of between 5% and 10% for the leave scheme, or almost £ 4bn so far in cash terms.

The NAO report states that between 2.5% and 5% of the total money issued to all businesses was ‘almost certainly’ siphoned off by criminal fraudsters, ranging from £ 1 billion to £ 1.95 billion.

Auditors said that “limiting claims to existing taxpayers should have reduced the risk of fraud, but HMRC could have done more to make it clear to employees whether their employer was part of the leave scheme.”

HMRC is now faced with the challenge of knowing how to drive out possible fraudulent claims or payments made in error. The department estimates that it would take 500 staff to recover £ 275million out of 10,000 of the highest-risk leave grants.

That’s a high rate of return, but the department should remove these workers from its tax compliance team – which has an even higher rate of return.

It takes 18 months to recruit and train new staff to perform the tasks, HMRC says, so that option is off the table. This month, the ministry decided to bring in private contractors to do some of the work.

Initially, HMRC considered releasing the names of all the employers who had requested leave, but then decided not to, saying it might have deterred too many legitimate applicants.

Reaching out to staff one-on-one to tell them her employer was claiming vacation pay to cover her salary, which could have alerted employees that their workplace was making fraudulent claims, was ruled out as being too long.

HMRC will publish the names of employers who apply under the new employment support scheme and notify employees that their workplace has claimed child support to cover their wages.


A government spokesperson said: “The government’s priority since the start of the epidemic has been to protect jobs and get support for those who need it as quickly as possible, and our support programs in jobs have provided a lifeline to millions of hard-working families across the UK. . We make no apologies for the speed at which they were delivered.

“Our programs were designed to minimize fraud from the start and we have rejected or blocked thousands of fraudulent requests. We will not tolerate those who seek to defraud taxpayers and will take action against the perpetrators, including criminal prosecution.

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