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The Equestrian Employers Association (EEA) is the organisation for you if you employ staff in the equestrian industry.



With the rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, information and advice from Government can change quickly. For all the latest Government information on COVID-19 and the measures the Government, and Devolved Governments, are taking, please visit the UK Government website, the Scottish Government website, the Welsh Government website or the Northern Irish Government website.

The information below is kept under continuous review and is updated often, please be sure to check the COVID-19: guidance for employers and businesses from the Government for the latest updates.

On this page is the following information: 

Lockdown release
Advice for employers
Self employed support
Cash flow issues and furlough
Livery yard owners and managers
Riding and caring for horses
Your mental health


Coronavirus Staff policy 

What would you do if a member of your staff announced that they had been at a party last weekend and ignored the rules on social distancing/face coverings; and subsequently a positive Covid-19 case had been reported from the other party attendees? 

By having your own Coronavirus Staff Policy, you will take control of the rules and procedures for your staff surrounding the Pandemic. 


Create your own Coronavirus Staff Policy with this template. 



Lockdown releasE

The Government have begun to release lockdown, here some of your questions will be answered. We have been working on your behalf with the BHS and BEF.

Return to work safely

If you are reopening your equestrian business then you must consider how it can be done safely to protect your staff, yourself, your clients and your  family if they also live on site. 

It is YOUR responsibility to ensure that the workplace is safe. If your workers feel that the yard has not taken steps to be coronavirus safe, they have a right to not work until the correct measures are put in place. 

  Read the Governments advice on working safely during coronavirus if outdoors

You may have made no changes at all during the lockdown, as in it has been business as usual, however these following steps are still relevant: 

Adhere to the Government's rules on social distancing and washing hands. 

Stagger staff lunch breaks and where possible provide an outside rest area. Communicate to clients that all communal areas are for employees only. 

Consider ways to make the toilet facilities as safe as possible with strict biosecurity measures in place. 

Everyone needs to assess and manage the risks of COVID-19. As an employer, you also have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety. This means you need to think about the risks they face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19.

A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace. Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to. 

Use the EEA Risk Assessment Creator to write yours and read more about risk assessments to learn why they are important.

The BHS have also given some helpful advice on writing risk assessments.

Arrange a meeting with your staff to allow them to voice any concerns they may have on either the restrictions of lockdown being lifted, and/or additional individuals attending the yard. 

Yard equipment really must if possible not be shared. If it is eg. wheelbarrows, ensure that it is disinfected after person 1 use. At the end of each working day, a thorough clean of all equipment, communal areas and door handles and locks should happen. 

Insist the clients use their own grooming kits and each worker has their own grooming kit which is not shared - this especially important for freelancers. 

Write a yard protocol on biosecurity and social distancing and communicate this to employees, clients and anyone visiting your yard. 

When tack is being used by more than one person, it must be cleaned after use by person 1 using an appropriate disinfectant (either in the water, wipe or spray) before saddle soaping.  

Consider clients not entering the tack room and instead staff placing the equipment outside the stable ahead of their allocated time slot. Staff should wash their hands before and after touching the tack. 

Ensure employees and clients ride and train within their current capabilities. 

To reduce the number of people on yard at any one time, create allocated time slots for clients and maintain segregation of workers. 

Complete the ABRS Certificated E-Learning Course on Safe Working Practices whilst Exiting Lockdown

The online course is designed for equestrian centre owners and their staff to ensure that they are fully prepared and feel confident in the transition phase and takes just 15 minutes to complete and is free - just email  including the name and email address of each participant to take part. 

Can my liveries come more often

Yes. Livery yards who had closed to clients can consider relaxing attendance rules but with rota/number restrictions/hygiene/social distancing as required. This will be at owners’ discretion as some may be vulnerable/shielding.

Can i open my riding school OR LIVERY YARD

Further to guidance for recreational sport and exercise from the Sport & Recreation Alliance and Sport England, the BHS is advising that riding schools, facility centres and livery yards in England may re-open from Wednesday 13th May 2020 whilst observing the current Government guidance in relation to social distancing.

In addition there will be further Government guidance on hygiene and increased biosecurity for the resumption of sport which must be followed.

The Sport & Recreation Alliance has advised that it is for individual facilities and organisations to develop their own guidance on reopening, to best fit their own situation, in line with the Government's advice. You can use the Risk Assessment Creator to form your own risk assessments.

The continuation of this advice and guidance is conditional based upon the criteria set by Government and is therefore subject to change.


Can i coach clients at my yard

Yes with social distancing. Coaches to put necessary measures, risk assessments and safeguarding provision in place.

Can I travel to my clients yard to teach

Yes. Coaches may travel to yards for coaching with social distancing outdoor only. Coaches to put necessary measures, risk assessments and safeguarding provision in place.

Coaches are not allowed to ride client’s horse unless full disinfection of clothing and equipment can be done between rides and social distancing maintained.

Is sharing equipment now safe

No - you must adhere at all times to the same levels of handwashing and biosecurity as at the peak of the virus. 

Can horses travel

Travel for exercise restriction removed means horses can be transported for a lesson or venue hire – outdoor only. Travel element must be only with others from household with hygiene and social distancing measures throughout.

It is likely that venues can resume facility hire with limit on numbers. Clients can attend alone, with members of their household bubble, or individuals can meet with one other from outside their household (coach or other participant provided SD is met). Venues to put necessary measures and risk assessments in place.

First aid Considerations

As some businesses may be turning their attention towards opening when they are able to, even if under limitations and modified operations, it is important to consider how to support and protect first aiders with the current risks associated to COVID-19. 

Medi- K have recommended visiting the resuscitation guidance for first aiders and from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  


Advice for employers

80% wage cover - furlough

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers and started on 1 March 2020 and is operational until October. It is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

The scheme is designed to pay employees up to 80% of their salary to stay at home. The hope is that this will give employers financial breathing space and save jobs where otherwise lay offs or redundencies may have been necessary.


It is a “furlough “of employees who would be out of a job but still be registered with their employer and therefore receiving 80% of their wage.

  • It applies to all businesses
  • Employees who would otherwise be made redundant can be designated a “furloughed employee” by the employer
  • Furloughed members of staff must not work for the employer during the period of furlough - nor volunteer
  • Furlough is from 1 March 2020, so is to be backdated. It will last for at least 3 months and will be extended if necessary. Note that while the scheme is backdated to the beginning of March as it is intended to support all those employed then, a firm will only be eligible to claim the grant once they have agreed the furlough with their staff and staff have stopped working for the employer. This will of course be subject to employment law in the usual way.
  • It is available to employees on the payroll at 19 March 2020
  • The scheme pays a grant (not a loan) to the employer
  • It is the employer’s decision, but the employee will have to agree
  • They will get 80% of wages - the employer does not have to top it up to full wages
  • Apprentices are employees, and they are treated as such for tax purposes. This means for them that you pay income tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) in the same way as everyone else, via the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system. 

    Apprentices can be furloughed in the same way as other employees and they can continue to train whilst furloughed.

    However, you must pay your Apprentices at least the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage, National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage (AMW/NLW/NMW) as appropriate for all the time they spend training. This means you must cover any shortfall between the amount you can claim for their wages through this scheme and their appropriate minimum wage.

    Guidance is available for changes in apprenticeship learning arrangements because of COVID-19.



The employer must notify the employee they are selected for furlough and get the employee’s agreement in writing. (use the template below) 

The proper agreements must be in place with employees to vary their contracts of employment and to make the new pay arrangements effective.

It is not yet clear as to how the employee would be requested to return to work but assumed that this would happen when the business was able to re-employee.


  • The grant will be paid to the employer through a new online system which is being built for this purpose.
  • The employer will pay the employee through payroll 
  • Scheme will be administered by HMRC:
    • Relevant employees must be designated as furloughed employees.
    • Employers will submit information to HMRC through a new online portal.
    • As this will take time to build, businesses should look to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support cash flow in the meantime. 
  • Maximum grant will be calculated per employee and is the lower of:
    • 80% of ‘wages’. The notes published so far, use the phrase ‘wage for all employment costs up to a cap of £2,500 per month’. It is our understanding that this includes employers' NIC and pension contributions. Wages will be determined by reference to a defined period (yet to be announced).

Download Template

Use this furlough template letter for your workers. 


Furlough - July onwards

The furlough scheme for employers and employees has been extended and the amounts an employer can claim will change from July. 

From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant for their normal hours not worked. When claiming the grant for furloughed hours employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.

The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full 3 week period prior to 30 June.

This means that the final date by which an employer needs to agree with their employee and ensure they place them on furlough is 10 June. Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June.

From 1 July 2020, businesses will be given the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part time. Individual firms will decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return, so that they can decide on the best approach for them - and will be responsible for paying their wages while in work.

From August 2020, the level of government grant provided through the job retention scheme will be slowly tapered to reflect that people will be returning to work. That means that for June and July the government will continue to pay 80% of people’s salaries. In the following months, businesses will be asked to contribute.

The scheme updates mean that the following will apply for the period people are furloughed:

  • June and July: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything.
  • August: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
  • September: The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 14% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
  • October: The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 23% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.

Employers will be required to submit data on the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period and actual hours worked. Employees who believe they are not getting their 80% share can also report any concerns to the HMRC fraud hotline. HMRC will not hesitate to take action against those found to be abusing the scheme.

Staff who have a horse or accommodation - furlough

If my staff are on furlough and they have accommodation with their job, that is where they live, what do I do?
Let them stay – it is too complicated to evict them and then reinstate

My member of staff has a horse stabled as part of her package, how is that effected by furlough?
Victoria von Wachter, from 5 Essex Court advises: "Issue invoices for the livery, but consider provision for staggered or deferred payment. 

(As a general point, a decision of the  Revenue 1st Tier Tax Tribunal recently published seems to indicate that where staff are on NMW and therefore not paying tax or NI, then deducting sums such as this, even with permission, could act so as to reduce the NMW below the statutory limit. 

In this situation it is best to keep these items separate and issue an invoice rather than making  a deduction from pay. Clearly this does not apply where the employee earns enough to be paying tax and NI such that the deduction for horse keep (or anything else) does not drop their hourly rate below the  NMW base line. Deductions  from net salary are commonplace in industry and cover such things as child care vouchers, dental plans, gym  membership etc. Of course this usually applies to staff who earn significantly enough that such deductions would not being them anywhere near to the NMW.)"

Carrying over annual leave

The Working Time Regulations have been amended to allow for carry-over of annual leave that has not been taken due to COVID-19.

This rule only applies to the 4 weeks of statutory annual leave (or the worker’s pro-rata entitlement) that is derived from the EU Working Time Directive. It does not apply to the additional 1.6 weeks’ statutory leave that workers are entitled to under domestic law, or any additional leave they may be entitled to in accordance with their contracts.

These 4 weeks of leave can only be carried-over where it was ‘not reasonably practicable’ for a worker to take some or all of this leave in the leave year in which it is due, because of the ‘effects’ of COVID-19. We are told that these ‘effects’ include effects on the worker, the employer or the wider economy or society.

No guidance has been provided as to what is “not reasonably practicable”. This is likely to be fact-sensitive for each worker. Presumably the ability to take leave must be genuinely and significantly affected by COVID-19.

Such carried-over leave may be taken in the 2 leave years immediately following the leave year in which it was due. Should the worker’s employment be terminated before they take this carried-forward leave they can receive a payment in lieu for it.

Taking annual leave during furlough

Can I insist that my furloughed staff take their Annual Leave before returning back to work? And is it correct I must pay them 100% for this time off?

Employers may insist on employees taking leave, but they must give twice as much notice as the leave being taken. During this time, holiday pay must be normal pay – not the 80% furloughed pay. 

Reducing employees hours

Can I significantly reduce the hours of my employees?

Furlough is all or nothing, you can not furlough staff and then ask them to work a few hours or volunteer. If reduced hours are wanted then short time working is the way forward.  

This is where an employer reduces the hours the employee is required to work by reducing the number of working days and/or hours the employee works in a day. The employee’s wages are reduced accordingly.

Employers can only impose short-time working where there is a contractual right to do so, for example, in the contract of employment, a collective agreement, or possibly through custom and practice. Flexibility as to how hours are reduced, how long the arrangements can last, who is selected, and so on, may depend on how the contractual provisions are drafted.

The employer should present its proposal to the relevant employees, or their representatives, explaining why it considers that short-time working is necessary with a view to seeking their consent. Many redundancy policies will provide for the employer to consider short-time working before carrying out any compulsory redundancies and this may help in getting employee buy in.

If the employee refuses, the employer will have to consider alternatives. These may include compulsory redundancy (although this will only apply if there is a reduced requirement for people to carry out the work for which the employee(s) is/were hired), putting the employee on furlough, or dismissal on the grounds of some other substantial reason. This is a complex area, however, and so further advice should be sought.

Even when an employer has the right to impose short-time working, if it is not exercised regularly, the situation should be handled sensitively. As employee pay will be reduced, it is sensible to communicate with the workforce and explain the company’s thinking behind the reduction in hours, to encourage employees to be “on side”. If the reduction is to reduce or avoid redundancies, employees are likely to be more amenable to short-time working.

In these circumstances, the employees could bring a number of claims. These could include claims for unlawful deduction from wages, unfair dismissal, breach of contract, redundancy payments (see below) and protective awards. This is a high-risk approach. Be guided by your knowledge of your own workforce in gauging how they might react.

If a whole section of the workforce will be affected, selection will be straightforward. If the short-time working pattern requires that you select particular employees, care should be taken to avoid any discriminatory or unfair selection process.

Yes they are working on amended hours, they will be paid at the pro rata rate. Discuss this further with your accountant or payroll provider. 

Check you have a contractual right to impose short-time working?
Work out proposed new working patterns and selection criteria
Beware of inadvertently triggering redundancy payments
Communicate constructively with employees
Use the correct letter template to give to your employee(s)

Compulsory short term working template

Use this version if there is a contractual right to put the employee on short-term working. If you have used the EEA Contract Creator then this is for you, as our version provides you with the right. 

Short term working template

Use this version if there is not a contractual right to put the employee on short-term working. (you have not issued a written statement of terms of employment/written contract or have a version which does not have this clause)


Terminating staff contracts at end of furlough

At the end of the furlough scheme I have decided that I do not need as many staff to return. Do I simply give them notice as per in their contract? (if less than 2 years’ service)

Yes if less than 2 years service. Ensure that you issue the notice letter whilst the employee is still on furlough and not at the end. 

If more than 2 years’ service, on what grounds am I making them redundant ? 

The requirement for work of this particular kind has ceased or diminished. Use the EEA guidance on redundancy. 

Reducing the hours in the contract

If I wish for my employee to return back to work but on reduced hours – do I need to supply them with a new contract? And what happens if they refuse to accept these new terms?  Victoria Von Wachter from 5 Essex Court advises: 

Yes you will need to supply a new contract of employment to your employee – and you must gain their agreement. 

The general rule is ‘no variation without consideration’  - consideration usually being  money – a sweetener. If they refuse, you can either make them  redundant or dismiss for ‘some other substantial reason’ – business efficiency. 


All employers have a duty of care to ensure that the place of work is safe. This includes providing tissues, adequate antibacterial hand wash and hand sanitiser and insisting on regular hand washing.

Also to ensure that high risk individuals, such as those with any underlying medial conditions or pregnant ladies are given priority.

If you are unaware of the symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the NHS has a comprehensive guide. If you, or a member of your team, are feeling unwell, please call 111 for advice (do not visit your local GP). The NHS have issued guidelines for self-isolating.

Legal obligations regarding sick pay

For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the Government have announced that they will fund SSP for two weeks of employees and it can be paid immediately (ie no waiting days). 

Sick pay can be paid also to those that are self isolating. 

If an employee refuses to work, can i make them

Working from home is impossible with horses, and they still need to be cared for. If the employee suspects that they have been infected then they must  be tested and isolated. 

If they have merely come into contact with someone who is infected then, again they must be tested. Employees cannot stay at home, just because they feel like it.

My staff live on site

If your team all live onsite and are not in contact with anyone else then they are in a low risk category.

This risk significantly increases when people visit the yard, such as an owner, client, farrier, vet, or the team go off site.

To minimise the risk nominate one person to shop for everyone and ensure they adhere to all of the recommended biosecurity measures, or arrange for online shopping to be dropped off.

Ensure that thorough cleaning takes place in communal areas such as shared kitchens and bathrooms and that where possible social distancing is still adhered too.

Legally you can not prevent anyone from seeing their friends and family during this time, but ask employees to be mindful and ensure that anyone they are visiting is also adhering to strict biosecurity measures and self isolating where required.

My employee needs to self isolate

If I have an employee that refuses to return to work because they have a parent or family membership shielding in their house they live in, can I terminate their contract of employment?

If the employee works as part of a larger team then they must self isolate as per Government recommendations (7 days for direct contact, 14 days for indirect contact).

If your employee is the primary carer for the horses then as long as they are showing no symptoms they are allowed to work, but limit any outside contact from liveries / clients etc – essentially self isolating them with your horses. Ensure that all biosecurity measures are in place and that any supplies such as shopping / horse feed is dropped off to the yard and left by a nominated person to avoid any direct contact.

By terminating the contract of employment you risk creating a claim for automatically unfair dismissal if you terminate because someone in this situation is refusing to attend work. 

If an employee is self-isolating, do I still have to pay them their full salary? 
Depends on what is in the contract – if there is a sick pay scheme then pay accordingly to that. Otherwise SSP is payable under the new SSP Regs for coronavirus.




This support is available for those who are registered as self employed with HMRC and have submitted 2019 accounts.


The employment status of grooms is critical in determining what government support is available at this challenging time.

If one has been told by an employer that they are ‘self-employed’, yet have not registered themselves as such with HMRC, sadly that individual will not be eligible for this self employed package  NOR government support for the employed that are not required or unable to work i.e furlough.

We recommend applying for Universal Credit in this circumstance.

The details 

  • The government will pay self-employed people, who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus, a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last 3 years, up to £2,500 per month. 
  • Phase 2 will be paid in August. These will be based on the same figures as the previous claim, however the amount payable this time will be 70% of average profit, rather than 80%, so expect your payment to be lower than last time. The eligibility criteria is exactly the same, so if you were eligible for the first round you will be again, and unfortunately vice versa. Again, the grant will be included in your taxable income for 2020/21.
  • You’ll be able to claim these grants and continue to do business. It's covering the same amount of income as we are for furloughed employees, who also get a grant worth 80%.
  • It’s only open to those with trading profits up to £50,000, who make a majority of their income from self-employment. To minimise fraud only those already in self-employment, who have a tax return for 2019 can apply.
  • HMRC are working urgently, we expect people to access it no later than the beginning of June. If eligible, HMRC will contact you with an online form, they pay the grant straight to your bank account.
  • To make sure no one who needs it misses out on support, anyone who missed the filing deadline in January, four weeks from today to submit their tax return.
  • You can access the business interruption loans.
  • Income tax payments due in July can be deferred to the end of Jan 2021.

How do I access it

  • HMRC have created an online tool to find out if you’re eligible to make a claim through the self-employed income support scheme.
    You’ll need your Self Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number and your National Insurance number. Check if you are eligible:
  • If eligible, HMRC will contact you with an online form, they pay the grant straight to your bank account.

I am employed and self employed

I am registered both employed and self-employed, which Government support applies to me?

This scheme is only open to those who make a majority of their income from self-employment.

How soon will i have access to the money

At present the date hasn’t been confirmed, but it is thought to be estimated that the support will start paying out in June.

Do i have to be registered with the HMRC

Yes you do.

If you are not registered as self employed with HMRC then you do not qualify for this support. We recommend that you look at applying for Universal Credit.

What happens if I only recently registered with hmrc

To apply for this support you need to have been registered as self-employed and have a tax return for 2019. 

If you fall outside of this time frame then you will need to apply for Universal Credit.

I am not sure if i am in fact registered with hmrc

To be self-employed you will be registered with HMRC, submit your own tax return and pay your own National Insurance/Income Tax.

If you are not registered as self employed, then unfortunately this Government support is not available to you and you will need to register for Universal Credit.

I have told My groom that they are self employed

You can’t tell someone they are self employed. This is illegal and false employment.

To self-employed they will be registered with HMRC, submit their own tax return, set their own hours, work for more than one person and issue you with an invoice for any work carried out.

If you have told them that they are self employed and they have not registered with HMRC unfortunately they will only qualify for Universal Credit and not be eligible for the self employed package or employed support (furloughing) from the government.

what is universal credit and does it apply to me

Universal Credit is government support for those who don’t qualify for the self employed, or employee packages.

You could get Universal Credit on the basis of remaining at home on government advice:

  • If you don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay or Employment and Support Allowance or
  • you need additional help on top of SSP or New-style ESA.

As there is at least a five-week wait before you get Universal Credit, you can get help from day one through a Universal Credit Advance Payment.  Advance payments have to be paid back out of your Universal Credit payments .and must be paid back within 12 months.

People who need to claim Universal Credit because of coronavirus will not have to produce a fit note. Universal Credit is claimed online.

Self-employed claimants on Universal Credit who are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus will not have a Minimum Income Floor  (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time while affected.


Cash Flow Issues

At this time cash flow is crucial to keeping your business alive. The Government has put in place a variety of schemes to support you. 

  The BEF have had confirmation from the Sport and Recreation Alliance that riding schools, livery yards and competition centres fall under the umbrella of those businesses considered to be ‘for assembly and leisure’ – provided they are normally open to the public – and as such are eligible for the help currently on offer from the Government.


The bounce back loans

Small businesses will benefit from a new fast-track finance scheme providing loans with a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders. 

  • businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days
  • loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form
  Read more regarding the Bounce Back Loans


In England
The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

  • For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a taxable grant of £10,000.
  • For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a taxable grant of £25,000.

Businesses based in England, in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector are eligible. 

For those eligible for Small Business Rate Relief
The Government is providing additional funding for Local Authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

  Read more about the Small Business Grant Funding

The BEF have had confirmation from the Sport and Recreation Alliance that riding schools, livery yards and competition centres fall under the umbrella of those businesses considered to be ‘for assembly and leisure’ – provided they are normally open to the public – and as such are eligible for the help currently on offer from the Government:

You do not need to take any action, if you are eligible for the grant you will be contacted by your local authority. If you are unsure who your local authority is, you can check via the Governments Find your local council tool. 

  Read the Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund Guidance

In Scotland
Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value between £18,000 and up to and including £51,000 will be able to apply for a one-off grant of £25,000. A one-off grant of £10,000 will also be available to small businesses who get Small Business Bonus Scheme Relief Rural Relief. We are currently awaiting details of how businesses will be able to claim this money. 

In Wales

  • £25,000 grant for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000
  • Small firms eligible for Small Business Rates relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less will receive a £10,000 grant.
  • You can find additional details on the Business Wales website

Business rates 

A business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England has been introduced for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

You are eligible for the business rates holiday if your business is based in England and your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector. 

This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020 and you do not need to take any action. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

  Read the Expanded Retail Discount 2020/21: Coronavirus Response – Local Authority Guidance 

In Scotland

  • 12 months 100% relief rates holiday for businesses in hospitality, leisure and retail. Grants will also available for Scottish companies in this sector
  • All non-domestic properties will get 1.6% relief, reversing the poundage change.
  • You can find additional detail on the Scottish Government’s package of reliefs and grants here

In Wales

  • 12 month rates relief for businesses in retail, leisure and hospitality
  • Shops, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will receive 100% business rates relief, administered through their local authority
  • You can find additional details on the Business Wales website 

Payment of VAT has been deferred 

VAT has been deferred for the next quarter (these payments can now be paid at the end of the financial year) 

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. Please do so in sufficient time so that HMRC do not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of your VAT return.

Confirming with lenders to provide mortgage payment holidays of at least 3 months for those facing finance issues as a result of coronavirus. 


HMRC have scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of COVID-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities. If you think you or your business is eligible for support through Time to Pay, you can call the following helpline number to get practical help and advice on 0800 0159 559.

Arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. For more information, please check the HMRC site here 



livery yard owners and managers

The BEF advises

  • Keep clients visits to a minimum without compromising their horse’s welfare
  • Change into clean yard clothes
  • Washing hands with soap and warm water before leaving the house

Sensible things to put in place

Other considerations maybe: 

  • Do not allow the sharing of equipment such as yard tools/grooming kits etc. If this is unavoidable then make sure that all tools are disinfected between use.
  • Set up staggered time slots for clients to come and go, making sure that they only carry out what’s necessary to ensure their horse’s welfare and wellbeing.
  • Prioritise the vulnerable and those who work in the NHS in the time slots.
  • Have a no socialising rule between liveries on the yard, for example the tack room – instead encourage them to use a different platform to chat online and encourage virtual interaction.
  • If it is unavoidable for liveries to come into contact with others make sure they respect and adhere to the two metre social distancing guidelines.
  • If there are multiple stables blocks within each yard try and keep them separate.
  • Ask clients to wash their hands before they leave their house, again on arrival at the yard, when they leave the yard and as soon as they arrive home.
  • Devise a rota for disinfecting frequently touched items (such as a door, or gates).

Clear communication

In this challenging situation good clear communication is key, it helps to avoid confusion and conflict: 

  • Set up a Facebook or WhatsApp group to keep all of your liveries up to date.
  • Agree on and share rules with your liveries so everyone is clear about what they can and can’t do.
  • Set up a buddy system to limit visitors to the yard, allowing DIY / part livery clients only one visit per person per day.
  • On large yards you may want to set up a committee of two or three owners who can represent the views of all and be heard.
    This will help to avoid clients potentially speaking to your employees about their concerns and putting your staff in a compromised position. Insist that any concerns and queries are fed directly to you for you to deal with.
  • When it comes to riding, as a yard owner or manager, it is at your discretion to make an informed decision if to allow your clients to ride or not, and this will vary from yard to yard.
    This decision should be made whilst keeping in mind not to put any extra drain on the NHS. For example, if your yard is continuing to allow clients to ride you may want to restrict certain activities such as jumping.
  • Remember that it’s not for ever. Everyone is controlled by the virus; it is your job to ensure the welfare of the horses and your clients, as well as maintaining business viability for all concerned.
  • Remind liveries that you are only trying to do their best for them. It is a period of time that will pass and as long of the welfare of the horses is prioritised then everything else must take a back seat to prioritise the health and safety of all. 

DIYs vs Full livery

DIY (Do It Yourself) Livery
Anyone with a horse on DIY livery who is responsible for the full care and welfare of the horse is known as a primary carer. A primary carer is allowed to attend the yard as this is essential travel to ensure the needs of the horses care are met, unless the welfare needs of the horse can be met by the yard owner / manager.

Full Livery
Anyone with an equine in full livery, where all of the daily care and welfare needs are met under the agreement that you have with your client, is not seen as essential travel and therefore the governments’ advice to stay at home might be the best course.

Remind your clients that they are paying for a service and your yard policy of lockdown is there to protect everyone, including other clients, yourself and your employees.

As long as the horse has food, water, clean bedding and some form of exercise daily (which includes turn out / going on the horse walker) then their welfare is not compromised.




The welfare of horses, and other livestock, is still essential, making your travel as an employer, employee or owner to provide care valid under the current guidance.

Please keep your own health and safety in mind, as well as that of your employees, clients and everyone around you.

To help through these uncertain and ever-changing times, we have put together some guidance for all around looking after and riding horses under the current requirements.


  • Keep visits to a minimum without compromising your horse’s welfare – consider a buddy system with another livery
  • Go to the yard solo – no passengers, family or children
  • Change into clean yard clothes
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before leaving the house
  • Consider putting your horse on full livery if it’s available and financially viable
  • If your horse is on full livery, only make essential yard journeys. Keep in touch by phone, email or video call with the yard.


  • Wash hands thoroughly on arrival – take soap and water with you if the facilities aren’t available
  • Maintain social distancing with other liveries and avoid common areas, such as tea rooms, as much as possible. Keep at least two metres apart at any time
  • Use your own equipment. If you need to use shared equipment such as wheelbarrows or hosepipes, disinfect the areas you’re touching or wear disposable gloves
  • Avoid activities that carry an increased risk of injury and consider wearing an up-to-standard riding hat while handling your horse
  • Take advantage of feed, hay and bedding suppliers who offer a delivery service, and liaise with them closely to ensure that their service isn’t impacted. Make provision of essential supplies so you are prepared in the event of a shortage
  • Limit the number of visitors to the yard, and ask that those who do visit closely follow hygiene and social distancing guidance


  • Keep your visit timely and avoid lingering – only carry out what’s necessary to ensure your horse’s welfare and wellbeing
  • Wash hands thoroughly before leaving the yard
  • If you have hand sanitiser that’s at least 60% alcohol, use it to clean your hands when you get into your car

Arriving home

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap straight away
  • Have a specific ‘yard visit’ towel to dry your hands on
  • Get changed immediately into clean, fresh clothes

If you keep your horse(s) at home, many of these points, particularly around hygiene and clothing, should be observed.

stagger clients visiting times

If you have liveries (this principle could even work with staff) stagger the times they are on the yard by giving them time slots. 

Ensure that all clients follow strict biosecurity measures and adhere to social distancing.



Your mental health matters and at a time when everything seems a little uncertain it is important to stay in communication with those around you.

If you are feeling worried or out of sorts then have a look at Employers Minds, our online support to help you. 

Remember at this time your friends and colleagues may also be struggling so reach out and stay in contact. Here at the EEA we are open as normal and here to chat and help where we can. 




As the coronavirus continues to spread keep up to date with advice from the NHS who has detailed information on staying safe, and symptoms.

The BEF will issue regular statements from Member Bodies regarding their standing on the situation and events.

If you have a question that is not answered please get in touch - we are here to help you.






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