UNISON MEMBERS – HOMEWORKING UPDATE

Colleagues,

UNISON Renfrewshire has been raising with employers their failure to pay the £6 per home working allowance (tax-free as per current HMRC Guidelines). UNISON have also pursued political intervention, both of which has resulted in a failure to address this matter.

It is an absolute disgrace that employers continue to deliberately withhold this reasonable and justified allowance. Thousands of workers across Scotland quickly took the employers equipment into their homes and have continued to provide services at their own cost. The 32 local authority employers have saved around £81million this financial year from the current working arrangements (figures provided by COSLA to the Scottish Government).

UNISON will continue to pursue this matter at local level, COSLA and with the Scottish Government.

In the meantime, please see the following statement issued by UNISON Scotland:

UNISON Scotland has been lobbying Government and seeking negotiated agreements for homeworking expenses to be paid as allowances via payroll. We have not made any significant headway in any sector on early agreement and payments on this basis. So without prejudice to UNISON’s ongoing efforts to secure collective agreements with Employers, we are issuing information to allow you to make an individual claim to HMRC for tax relief for these new expenses incurred for business during this tax year which ends 31 March 2021.

Additional costs include things like heating, metered water bills, home contents insurance, business calls or a new broadband connection. They do not include costs that would stay the same whether you were working at home or in an office, such as mortgage interest, rent or council tax.

You may also be able to claim tax relief on equipment you’ve bought, such as a laptop, chair or mobile phone. How much you can claim?

You can either claim tax relief on:

  • £6 a week from 6 April 2020 (for previous tax years the rate is £4 a week) – you will not need to keep evidence of your extra costs
  • the exact amount of extra costs you’ve incurred above the weekly amount – you’ll need evidence such as receipts, bills or contracts

You’ll get tax relief based on the rate at which you pay tax. For example, if you pay the 20% basic rate of tax and claim tax relief on £6 a week you would get £1.20 per week in tax relief (20% of £6).

To claim these expenses, you need a Government Gateway user ID and password. You can create a user ID if you do not already have one.

Creating a Government Gateway ID usually takes about 10 minutes. It works best if you have:

  • your National Insurance number
  • a recent payslip or P60 or a valid UK passport 

https://www.gov.uk/tax-relief-for-employees/working-at-home

I have made it clear to COSLA that claps, thanks, videos and praise amount to very little when employers fail to do the right thing. Over the past few weeks we have been contacted by members who are going to struggle with the additional utilities costs incurred by them in providing the employers services.

The employers have been putting forward an argument that workers are saving out of these arrangements – without any evidence or providing any comprehensive justification. In addition, I have asked the question about the thousands of workers who incurred significant costs coming to work during the pandemic for example – Social Care Workers (amongst the lowest paid) who could not access public transport or whose normal break facilities (if they are lucky enough to have facilities) were not available – are their costs going to be reimbursed?

UNISON Renfrewshire Branch Executive will be considering at its next meeting lodging formal grievances (under the disputes procedure) with all employers affected.

Members will be kept up to date with developments.

Thanks

Mark Ferguson

Branch Secretary