Coronavirus if you’re an employee

Written on 04/23/2021

Even though the furlough scheme has ended, there’s still support available to you if your job is at risk, you’re sick, or if you have caring responsibilities.

What’s in this guide

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If you’re worried about losing your job

Facing job loss can be a very stressful time, but there are some things you can do to prepare.

To be entitled to redundancy pay, you will usually need to have been with a company for at least two years. However, if you’re entitled to redundancy pay, this can be a good coushion until you’re back on your feet.

Find out more in our section on Losing your job
Learn more in our guide on Redundancy pay

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.

Find out more about redundancy support for apprenticeships at GOV.UK

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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.

Find out more about lay-offs and short-time working at GOV.UK(Opens in a new window)

Find out more in our guide Working reduced hours as an alternative to redundancy

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. If this is coronavirus related or any other illness, it will be paid from the fourth day you’re off sick.

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 want to apply for Universal Credit if living in Scotland visit the Citizens Advice Scotland website.

Find out more about coronavirus and your rights at work on the Acas website
If you’re in Northern Ireland, visit the Labour Relations Agency
Find out more in our guides:
Different kinds employment status
Employment contracts and your employee rights explained

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.

Learn more about time off to care for a dependant on the Acas website
Find out more about rights for carers and clinically extremely vulnerable on the Working Families website

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

Find out more about help and support for carers at Citizens Advice

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.

Test and Trace Support Payment

From 24 February 2022, the Test and Trace Support Payment is no longer available if you live in England. 

If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and are told to self-isolate, you can still get support if you 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, or
  • Housing Benefit.

In Scotland, this is called the Self-Isolation Support Grant and is worth £500.

In Wales, it’s called a self-isolation payment and is worth £750.

In Northern Ireland, it’s called a Discretionary Support Self-Isolation Grant, and you can find out more about it on the NI Direct website(Opens in a new window)

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.

Find out more about the Test and Trace Support Scheme:
If you live in Scotland, understand what the self-isolation grant is at
If you live in Wales, for the self-isolation support scheme visit

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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