Coronavirus: information and updates

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Employee rights and coronavirus

If you are self-isolating because of Government advice, ask your employer what options are available to you. Check their policy on:

Coronavirus advice for employers and employees (ACAS)

Guidance for employees working during coronavirus (GOV.UK)

If you’re self-isolating

Self-isolation will usually last 10 to 14 days. You may need to self-isolate because:

  • you have coronavirus
  • you have coronavirus symptoms, such as a high temperature or new continuous cough
  • someone in your household has coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms
  • you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus

Self-isolating is a legal requirement. You could be fined if you do not stay at home after:

  • a positive coronavirus test result
  • or NHS Test and Trace tells you to self-isolate because someone you’ve been in contact with has tested positive

Depending on your situation and your employer, you can:

  • take paid sick leave
  • get Statutory Sick Pay
  • work from home

Self-isolation guidance for households with possible coronavirus (GOV.UK)

Government support if you’re self-isolating

The Test and Trace Support Payment scheme is available in England. If you have to self-isolate but cannot work from home and you meet the criteria, you could get a single payment of £500. Local authorities will be responsible for the payments.

Eligibility for financial support when self-isolating (GOV.UK)

Returning to work after shielding

The government has updated guidelines for people who were asked to ‘shield’ and stay home. For most people in England, you can go back to work if you cannot work from home. 

Guidance for people extremely vulnerable to coronavirus (GOV.UK)

Your workplace should follow the government guidance and make sure it’s ‘coronavirus-safe’ so you can return. The government asks employers to make sure ‘robust measures’ are in place to keep employees who were shielding safe and to ease their transition back to work.

If you feel uncertain about returning to work, speak to your employer to find out their policies on coronavirus changes. Agree a plan for returning to work, including any adjustments you need.

Coronavirus: if you are worried about working (Citizens Advice)

Shielding advice is different in Wales.

Coronavirus shielding guidance (gov.wales)

Sick leave

If you need to self-isolate because you or someone you live with has coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms, you should be able to take sick leave and keep your job. But tell your employer as soon as possible.

Depending on your employer’s policy and your contract, your employer may ask you to take the paid sick leave in your contract or statutory sick pay (SSP). Ask your employer about their sick leave policy.

If your employer needs evidence, ask the NHS for an Isolation Note.

Get an Isolation Note (NHS)

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

You can now get SSP from the first day you’re self-isolating because of coronavirus. You can also get SSP if you need to care for someone else who is self-isolating. 

With SSP you can get £95.85 per week and your employer pays this for up to 28 weeks. To be eligible for SSP, you need to earn an average of at least £118 per week.

Check if you're eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (GOV.UK)

If you’re not eligible for SSP, you can claim:

If you are eligible, you will get New Style Employment and Support Allowance from day 1 of sickness if you either:

  • have coronavirus
  • are advised to stay at home

Benefits and coronavirus

Working from home

Your employer should try to make reasonable adjustments for you to continue to work. Ask if you can work from home instead of taking sick leave if you’re either:

  • self-isolating but not sick
  • extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and worried about returning to your workplace

The government has paused 'shielding' for people extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. This means if you cannot do your work from home, you may have to return to your workplace.

Every employer has someone responsible for providing equipment to work safely. This includes working from home. If you’re not sure who this is, ask for the person responsible for health and safety.

Reasonable adjustments at work

If your employer asks you to work from home even for 1 day, you can claim tax relief.

Claim tax relief for working at home (GOV.UK)

Furlough and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Your employer might have kept you on the payroll, even if you could not work. This is known as being ‘on furlough’. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) helps pay your wages while you're on furlough.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is being extended until 31 March 2021.

If you were made redundant just before the end of October, check with your employer to see if you are eligible to go back on furlough. You are still eligible to claim furlough if you were on your former employer’s payroll on 30 October 2020.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (GOV.UK)

If you missed the furlough deadline or your salary is reduced because of furloughing, you may be eligible for benefits.

Benefits and coronavirus

If you are self-employed

You cannot furlough if you are self-employed but you can claim Self-Employment Income Support instead.

Self-employment support during coronavirus

Returning to your workplace if you live with someone extremely vulnerable to coronavirus

Government advice is that people that were shielding can return to work. If you live with someone who’s extremely vulnerable to coronavirus, you’ll need to return to work too. This includes if the person is continuing to shield regardless of the government advice. But your workplace must follow government guidance to make it ‘coronavirus-safe’. 

If you’re worried, speak to your employer to find out their policies on coronavirus changes. You could try agreeing a plan for returning to work, including any adjustments you need to keep you and your household safe.

Shielding and living with other people (GOV.UK)

Benefits if you cannot work

You may be able to claim Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or other benefits if you are unable to work.  

Benefits and coronavirus

Working safely during coronavirus

The government has published online guides to help employers and employees to work safely during coronavirus. If you’re worried about your safety, ask your employer what measures will be in place to protect you.

Government guidance for making workplaces safe (GOV.UK)

If your employer does not carry out a risk assessment, or you believe the business should be closed, contact your local Trading Standards office.

Find your local Trading Standards office (GOV.UK)

Check which businesses should be closed (GOV.UK)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 05/11/2020

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