Rules that have been relaxed to help businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
A list of the rules that have been temporarily relaxed to make it easier for businesses to continue working through the disruption caused by COVID-19.
During the pandemic, the government has temporarily relaxed the rules in a number of areas. The following measures remain in place:
Annual leave: Workers will be allowed to carry over leave into the next 2 years.
Corporate insolvency and governance: measures introduced to relieve the burden on businesses, including:
- a moratorium to give companies breathing space from their creditors while they seek a rescue
- temporarily raising the current debt threshold for a winding up petition to £10,000 or more (expires on 31 March 2022)
- temporarily requiring creditors to seek proposals for payment from a debtor business, giving them 21 days for a response before they can proceed with winding up action (expires on 31 March 2022)
Delivery drivers’ hours: Temporary relaxation of the retained EU drivers’ hours for drivers undertaking carriage of goods by road in Great Britain.
Destroying spoilt beer: Temporary measure to help brewers and publicans.
Eviction protection for commercial tenants: A ban on eviction for businesses who cannot pay their rent (expires 25 March 2022).
Gender pay gap reporting: Employers given until 5 October 2021 to report.
Hand sanitiser: New suppliers will be able to bring products to market more quickly and easily.
Off-payroll working rules (IR35): The reform to the off payroll working rules in the private and voluntary sectors was delayed by 12 months from April 2020 to April 2021.
Outdoor markets: planning permission will not be needed for markets (expires on 22 March 2022).
Pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways: Pubs and restaurants will not need planning permission to operate as takeaways (expires on 23 March 2022).
Redundancy pay: Employees who have been furloughed will receive redundancy pay (and other forms of pay) based on their normal earnings.
Right-to-rent checks: Temporary adjustments to make it easier for landlords and letting agents to carry out right to rent checks during the pandemic (expires on 5 April 2022).
Right-to-work checks: Temporary adjustments to make it easier for employers to carry out right to work checks during the pandemic (expires on 5 April 2022).
Taxable expenses: Check which expenses are taxable while employees are working from home.
Temporary pavement licence: Creates a streamlined process for businesses to obtain a pavement licence to use furniture outside their premises (expires on 30 September 2022).
Temporary pavement licence provisions: These measures create a temporary faster, cheaper, and more streamlined licencing regime in England for the placement of moveable furniture including tables and chairs on the pavement outside cafes, bars, restaurants and pubs.
Temporary permission for off-sales of alcohol: Enables premises with on on-sales permission to sell alcohol for consumption outside the premises, takeaway and delivery (expires on 30 September 2022).
Temporary structures: Businesses can erect temporary structures to facilitate their operation without planning permission (expires on 31 December 21).
Temporary use of land: Businesses will be able to use land for 56 days without requiring planning permission (expires on 31 December 21).
Review of measures
The government is reviewing the measures that remain in place.
Find out about the process for their ongoing review.
Measures no longer in force
The following measures are no longer in force:
ADR Drivers Certificate – Auth 970 (DGDT): Allowed dangerous goods to be carried without the driver being in physical possession of their ADR Driver Training Certificate, where the driver held a valid certificate.
(Withdrawn in April 2021).
ADR examination shielding extension – Auth 971: Permitted the extension of an ADR driver licence or Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser (DGSA) certificate where the candidate was unable to attend an examination venue due to shielding guidelines.
(Withdrawn in April 2021).
Air navigation charges deferred: Charges for air navigation services in European airspace were deferred for up to 14 months.
(Expired in July 2021).
Capacity Market: Capacity providers were allowed additional time to meet certain deadlines and requirements.
Childcare funding: Councils were able to move around government funding for free childcare entitlements to make sure sufficient childcare places were available for vulnerable children and those of critical workers.
Companies House enforcement: Enforcement process were relaxed, including temporarily pausing the strike off process to prevent companies being dissolved.
Competition law: Rules were relaxed for certain agreements that would normally be considered anti-competitive.
(Withdrawn on 29 July 2021).
Corporate insolvency and governance: New measures were introduced to relieve the burden on businesses, including:
- temporary easements on filing requirements and Annual General Meetings (AGMs) (expired on 30 March 2021)
- temporarily removing the threat of personal liability for wrongful trading from directors (expired on 30 June 2021)
- temporarily preventing statutory demands against companies for repayment of debts (expired on 30 September 2021)
- temporarily preventing winding-up petitions against companies that can’t pay their debts due to COVID-19 (expired on 30 September 2021)
Driver CPC requirement for lorry, bus and coach drivers: Temporary changes to allow bus and lorry drivers who could not complete compulsory Driver CPC training to continue to drive.
Energy supply: Guidance from Ofgem on how to manage this.
Extended construction hours: councils could not refuse requests to extend construction site working hours until 9pm, Monday to Saturday without very compelling reasons.
(Expired on 30 September 2021).
Hotel accommodation for key workers: Hotels were given an exemption to open to offer accommodation to support key workers and vulnerable people.
Intellectual property services changes: The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) made alterations to their services, including:
MOTs suspended: vehicle owners were given a 6-month exemption.
(Expired in March 2021).
Patents, trade marks and registered design fees: Reduced some fees that the IPO charged in relation to patents, trade marks and designs.
(Withdrawn on 31 March 2021).
Small supplier exemption from termination clauses: Insolvency legislation normally prohibits suppliers from enforcing clauses in supply contracts which allow them to stop supplying when an insolvency event happens, because this can jeopardise rescue of companies. A temporary exemption to this for small business recognised the exceptional difficulties for them during the pandemic to require them to continue to supply, risking their own insolvency.
(Expired in June 2021).
Statutory Residence Test: Temporary changes for those coming to the country to work on COVID-19 related activity.
(Expired in June 2020).
Tax cuts to reduce PPE cost: PPE purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against coronavirus will be free from VAT for a 3 month period.
(Expired on 31 July 2020).
Transmission Licence exemption: Exempted 4 offshore windfarms temporarily from having to have a transmission licence while initially operating due to delays to the transfer of assets due to the pandemic.
(This easement was implemented on 3 October 2020 to take account of delays caused by COVID-19. We do not anticipate any further delays and therefore have no plans for further easements in this area).
Last updated 1 October 2021 + show all updates
List of measures updated. Relaxation expiry dates added.
Added information about changes to corporate insolvency and governance rules.
Added details about business rates revaluation postponement, tax cuts to reduce cost of PPE and funding for free childcare entitlements.
Added information about Companies House, Statutory Residence Test, Driver CPC requirements and navigation charges.