Joe Brewer Consulting Partner

Are you working remotely (like us!)? COVID-19 is changing the way many of us do business, from transforming our sales and marketing strategies to shifting our place of work. Many companies are introducing mandatory work from home policies during the Coronavirus pandemic, which can be isolating and demotivating for employees who are accustomed to coming into an office every day.

Now more than ever, it’s important to keep your employees engaged and happy. After all, a business’s most important asset is its people. 

Read on for 3 ways to offer tax free gifts to remote working staff….in a “COVID-19 -safe” way!  We’ve included suggestions too with links to websites to save you the time. But these are only a few suggestions, there a plenty of other options out there too!

Reward 1: E-Gift Cards 

An e-gift card is just the same as giving your staff a physical gift card, the only difference is that it will be emailed to their email address. 

The Rules: 

To offer an e-gift card as a tax free gift to your employees, you must follow the below guidance:

  • The gift card cannot be worth any more than £50 per individual gift.
  • The gift card/voucher cannot be one that can be exchanged for cash.
  • It needs to be given as a gift, as if it is related to the work/performance of the employee then it is taxable. 
  • This can also be used as a reward for directors too, just keep in mind that the total value of gifts to a director and their household can’t be any more than £300 per tax year.
  • Why not give your employee a little luxury and send them a White Company e-gift card?  You can add your personal message to this card. An added benefit of this card is that you can set it to be delivered on a certain date (ideal for a birthday!)
  • If you know they like their wine – why not try a Laithwaites wine e gift card?
  • Try a B&Q e-gift card – for those that love their hammers and tools!
  • If they like their sports and keep fit – try a Sports Direct E-gift card
  • Cadbury E-gift card – you can’t go wrong with chocolate! Again, you can schedule this to be sent on a specific date/time

Useful tip: Tell your staff when you’ve sent them an e-gift card. We used this option here at Oldfield Advisory, and a few staff disregarded the email, thinking it was spam! 

Reward 2: Home office equipment

The government has announced that there is a temporary tax exemption and National Insurance disregard to ensure that home office equipment that is purchased by employees as a result of the coronavirus outbreak will not attract tax & NICs liabilities where reimbursed by the employer. Further details are shown here.  Although this isn’t exactly a reward, compensating employees for home office equipment bought by them could be a very good motivator at this difficult time!

The Rules:  
  • Must be able to prove that equipment is obtained for the sole purpose of enabling the employee to work from home as a result of the coronavirus outbreak
  • Must be able to prove that the provision of the equipment would have been exempt from income tax if it had been provided directly to the employee by or on behalf of the employer. 
  • This is only a temporary tax measure and will end at the end of the 2020/21 tax year
  • Desk 
  • Chair
  • Extra Screen
  • Keyboard/mouse
Reward 3: Deliveries to the door

Several retailers now offer a “safe” or “contactless” delivery of gift items. So, you could choose an actual gift to be delivered safely. The World Health Organisation has stated that  “The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.”

The Rules:  

Ensure these deliveries fall under the ‘tax free gift’ category by following the below guidance:

  • Can’t be more than £50 value per gift. 
  • The gift cannot be one that can be exchanged for cash.
  • Needs to be given as a gift, as if it is related to the work/performance of the employee then it is taxable. 
  • Interflora are offering contactless flower deliveries, and yes there are some to be obtained below £50! (You may need to check availability in your area).
  • Amazon have a useful Giftfinder where you can put in personal preferences of who you are buying for and your budget and it will suggest options that may work for them!
  • Pizza Hut is one of the fast food stores that is offering contactless delivery – get a pizza delivered to the door in time for lunch!
  • KFC delivers to the door via Uber Eats, Deliveroo or Just Eat.
  • Marks & Spencer offers a range of hampers and gift options under £50.

(Disclaimer: The suggested retailers and links are provided for your benefit in the spirit of helpfulness and inspiration, however we cannot endorse the retailers themselves or their products, or guarantee that the safety of the links provided)