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Support and advice for employees

The government has set out a number of measures to support employees affected by the disruption to businesses caused by COVID-19.

Staying at home

If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, please follow medical advice and stay at home. Do not leave your house for seven days from when your symptoms started. Government advice to employers is to encourage their employees to work at home, wherever possible.

See the stay at home guidance.

Going to work

You should work from home unless it is impossible for you to do so.

Certain jobs require people to go into work – for instance if you operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, are delivering front line services or don't have the IT capability set up to work from home.

See the guidance on the government's website:

Claiming sick pay due to COVID-19

You can get £95.85 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.

You could also get SSP if you need to:

  • self-isolate because you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus
  • stay at home because you’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus

Check if you are eligible for sick pay

If you’re self-employed or not eligible for SSP

If you’re not eligible for SSP – for example if you’re self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £120 per week – and you have coronavirus or are advised to stay at home, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or new style Employment and Support Allowance.

If you’re eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have coronavirus or are advised to stay at home.

Workers on temporary leave (furloughed workers)

If you and your employer both agree, your employer might be able to keep you on the payroll if they’re unable to operate or have no work for you to do because of coronavirus. This is known as being ‘on furlough’.

To qualify for this scheme, you should not undertake work for them while you are furloughed. This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to.

If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

Check if you could be covered by the Coronavirus Job Retention

Holiday entitlement and pay

Government guidance outlines how holiday entitlement and pay operate during the coronavirus pandemic. It is designed to help employers understand their legal obligations towards:

  • workers who continue to work
  • workers who have been placed on furlough as part of the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

See Holiday entitlement and pay during (COVID-19)

Claiming benefit

Whether you’re currently in or out of work, if you’re on a low income and affected by the economic impacts of coronavirus, you will be able to access the full range of the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

The government has increased the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for 1 year. Both have increased by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This applies to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants.

If you have COVID-19 or are staying at home, you are now able to claim Universal Credit on Gov.UK, and if required can access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a jobcentre.

If you are already claiming benefits

Changes to Jobcentre appointments

People receiving benefits do not have to attend jobcentre appointments for three months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020.

People will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended.

See Coronavirus employment and benefit support

If you are staying at home due to COVID-19, you can now claim Universal Credit online.

Changes to health assessments

The Department for Work and Pensions has taken the precautionary decision to temporarily suspend all face-to-face assessments for health and disability-related benefits. This is aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to coronavirus and safeguarding the health of individuals claiming health and disability benefits, many of whom are likely to be at greater risk due to their pre-existing health conditions.

If you already have an assessment appointment arranged, you do not need to attend. Your assessment provider will contact you to discuss your appointment and explain the next steps to you.

Read more about changes to health assessments

COVID-19 Hardship fund

The government has provided a Hardship Fund of £500 million to local authorities to use to support their most vulnerable residents. As a result, we have taken measures to ensure that there will be no enforcement or recovery action initiated against those who fall behind with their payments.

Taking time off to look after someone

Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a 'dependant') in an unexpected event or emergency such as the coronavirus pandemic, This could be an elderly parent, neighbour or child. 

See advice from ACAS.

Mortgage payment holidays

Homeowners who are struggling to pay interest fees on their Help to Buy equity loans will be offered payment holidays.

Read about mortgage payment holidays.

Protection for renters

The government has announced measures to protect renters affected by coronavirus. As a result, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.

Free Skills Toolkit

The Skills Toolkit is made up of free online courses, tools and resources to help improve digital and numeracy skills. Delivered by the Department for Education and National Careers Service, individuals can select from a range of digital topics and skill levels from introductory to advanced.

See the National Careers Service: The skills toolkit

Further advice and resources