Coronavirus and being an employee

The Job Retention Scheme, also known as furlough, has been extended until 30 September 2021. This guide looks at how the scheme works and what you can do if you’ve already been made redundant, as well as your rights to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and what benefits you can claim if you’re not entitled to SSP.

 

Job Retention Scheme

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The Job Retention Scheme, also known as furlough, has been extended until 30 September 2021.

It will pay 80% of your salary for your normal hours which you can’t work, up to £2,500 a month.

If you can work half your normal hours, you will be paid as usual for these. You will also be paid 80% of your salary for the half of your hours when you’re not working.

The government will pay the money for the hours you've not worked and your employer will not have to make any contributions towards this.

Your employer will continue to make the associated employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions.

Your employer can put you on the Job Retention Scheme as long as you were employed and on the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) payroll on 30 October 2020. This scheme applies across all regions of the UK.

Test and Trace Support Payment

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You will be entitled to a payment of £500 if you are told to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace system, can’t work from home and are claiming:

  • Universal Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit

In Scotland, this is called the Self-Isolation Support Grant. There is no similar payment available in Northern Ireland.

In Wales, you could apply for this payment from 14 December 2020. It would be backdated to 23 October 2020 and has been extended to cover parents and carers on low incomes.

Your local authority will make this payment .

You will have to show proof of your employment to qualify and checks will be carried out to confirm you’re unable to work from home.

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If you're entitled to sick pay

Your rights to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) depend on your employment status and earnings.

If you’re an employee and earn more than £120 a week

If you’re an employee and earn at least £120 a week, you will be able to get £95.85 a week for up to 28 weeks. The government has announced SSP will be paid from the first day you are off sick if it's related to coronavirus.

SSP covers you if you’re ill and if you need to self isolate because you have been in direct contact with the virus. You'll still need to provide a fit note (this used to be known as a sick note). You no longer have to go to a doctor to get a fit note. You can get one by calling NHS 111.

Some employers have more generous contractual sick pay schemes. It's worth checking your contract, staff handbook or with your employer.

If your employer refuses to pay you SSP

The government has said that it will pay the costs of SSP for smaller employers, so claiming it shouldn't be a problem. If you do have a problem, contact the HMRC statutory payment dispute team:

Telephone: 0300 322 9422

Textphone: 0300 200 3212

Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 5pm, Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm.

If you’re an employee and earn less than £120 a week

If you’re employed but your earnings are too low to claim SSP, you might be able to claim Universal Credit if you have a low household income and you and your partner  have savings of less than £16,000. You can do this online.

Don’t delay making a claim for benefits, even if you think you might have been affected by coronavirus.

However, if you're already getting any of the following benefits, which are being replaced by Universal Credit, and need to make a claim for Universal Credit because of coronavirus, check with the Citizens Advice Help to Claim service as soon as possible.

  • Housing Benefit
  • Tax credits
  • Income Support
  • Employment and Support Allowance

You can find out how they might be affected and get advice about your situation. If you’re in Scotland, visit the Citizens Advice Scotland website

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If you don’t want to go into work because of coronavirus

If you don’t want to travel or go into work because you’re worried about catching coronavirus, your rights are more limited.

Employers have to listen to your concerns and try to find a way to work around them. You might also be able to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave.

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If you have caring responsibilities

You’re entitled to take time off to care for a dependant. There are no rules about how much time you can take off and you should talk to your employers about your options. You might also be able to take time off as holiday leave.

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You also have the right to ask for flexible working, such as reducing or altering your working hours, and time off in emergencies.

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It’s important you reach an agreement with your employer before deciding not to turn up to work, as this can be treated as an unauthorised absence.

If you’re worried about losing your job

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If the company you work for has gone into administration, the administrators might be able to access the same government grant if they intend to keep the business open.

However, If you’re worried that you might be made redundant our guide, Making the most of your redundancy pay can help you prepare.

If you’re facing redundancy during your apprenticeship, the government has launched a new service which offers free advice and can help you find new opportunities.

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Lay-offs and reduced hours

If you’ve been asked to take unpaid leave, and your contract allows you to be unpaid during this period, you might be able to claim Guarantee Pay.

You might also be able to claim new-style Jobseekers Allowance and, if you need help with other costs, Universal Credit.

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