Public health crises like the coronavirus pandemic can move fast. Our jobs and workplaces are often the first things that change.
Your health comes first. If you self-isolate or feel unwell, the world of work can seem far away.
But we all have bills to pay. For many of us, the biggest worry is what will happen to our pay.
Here are some things we think are good to know about your rights if you have to take time off work or your job situation changes.
Many businesses are working as usual. Their employees are being paid as usual.
Other businesses have needed to change or stop working. The Government's coronavirus job retention scheme aims to help them keep paying their workers. To learn more, visit Your guide to furlough on our website.
If you are unwell, you may qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from your employer. You may also qualify if you need to self-isolate after being in contact with someone who has the coronavirus.
Let your employer know you are self-isolating due to coronavirus concerns. You can receive sick pay from the first day. The minimum payment by law is £94.25 per week. Your employer may pay you more than that.
For the first seven days, you can self-certify. After that, you will need to give your employer a note. Your GP may give you a note if you have been unwell. If you are self-isolating or have coronavirus symptoms, you can ask the NHS for an isolation note.
Zero-hour contracts and seasonal work
If you have a zero-hour contract, or you do agency work, you are also entitled to SSP. You need to have earned at least £118 a week (before tax) on average for the last eight weeks. You will get sick pay for the days you were due to work.
If your employer refuses and you aren't happy with the reasons they give, talk to Citizens Advice about your options. You can tell your employer they need to fill in a government sick pay form. In the form, they must explain their reasons for refusing. They need to give you the completed form. You can then talk to HM Revenue and Customs to see if your employer is right or not.
Many seasonal workers are affected by the pandemic, such as people who normally work in holiday parks or theme parks, and exam invigilators for schools and universities. If you are a seasonal worker, contact your employer to ask about measures they have put in place to help workers.
Are you a self-employed worker? Have you lost income and need to take time off due to the pandemic? If so, you may be able to get help from the contributory Employment and Support Allowance.
The Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will give grants to self-employed people who qualify for support for a three months. HMRC will contact people about the scheme.
Universal Credit can also help self-employed people with businesses that have been running for more than 12 months. The amount is based on the national minimum wage.
Citizens Advice can help self-employed people to claim Universal Credit.
If you already claim benefits such as a Personal Independent Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit, the pandemic won’t affect what you get paid.
You don't need to take any action. Going to Jobcentres in person isn’t required at the moment. Do you claim Universal Credit and think you have been affected by coronavirus? If so, get in touch with your work coach using your online journal.
If you want to make a new claim for benefits, you can do so.
Learn more about benefits at the Government's Understanding Universal Credit website.
Taking time off to look after someone
Schools are closed. If you need to take time off work to look after your children, you can’t face disciplinary action or lose your job. You won't need to make the time up later on.
This is called dependant leave.
But you aren't entitled by law to be paid if you take dependent leave, so check with your employer.
This is also true if you need time off work to look after someone else, like a partner or an older relative, due to a sudden event.
Do you want to take time off work because you have a vulnerable person in your household and are worried about passing the virus to them? If so, talk to your employer as early as possible to discuss your options.
Find out more from ACAS.
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