Covid-19: Advice for Employees

If you are worried you might lose your job, please read the following information:

  • For the first time in history, the UK government is stepping in to help pay people’s wages – paying grants to support as many jobs as necessary.
  • Grants will be paid to any employers who retain their staff. Any employer in the country – large, small, charitable or for profit – who promises to retain their staff, will be able to apply for a grant from HMRC to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are kept on payroll, rather than being laid off.
  • Employees who were on the payroll on 19 March or earlier are eligible. The UK Government has extended the cut off period for those eligible for support.
  • Grants will currently cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month – which is above the average income. The cost of wages will be backdated to 1 March. Please note that the Chancellor has recently announced plans to make the furlough flexible and to taper its scope between now and October, with employers first paying the pension national insurance contributions and then a phased percentage of staff salaries. 
  • Note that the scheme is now closed to new applications – unless you are returning to work from any kind of parental leave. If you are returning for parental leave, your employer will still be able to furlough you even after the June 10 cut-off date. But in order to be eligible, your employer must have previously furloughed other staff in the past.
  • Employers remain free to top up the remaining 20 per cent, but this is not mandatory.
  • There will be no limit on the number or total value of grants paid out.
  • Workers on the Job Retention Scheme who are planning to take paid parental or adoption leave will be entitled to pay based on their usual earnings rather than a furloughed pay rate.
  • Further information on the scheme can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.
  • If you are worried about being laid off, please make your employer aware of this information as soon as possible.

If you are looking for work, please read the following information:

  • The Department for Work & Pensions have launched a new site to advertise thousands of critical jobs across the UK – https://jobhelp.dwp.gov.uk/.

If you think you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), please read the following information:

  • You can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.
  • If you are self-isolating because of COVID-19, you can now claim SSP. This includes individuals who are caring for people self-isolating in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine. To check your sick pay entitlement, you should talk to your employer, and visit https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay for more information.
  • How soon does SSP apply? The UK Government is legislating for SSP to be paid from day 1, rather than day 4, of your absence from work if you are absent from work due to sickness or need to self-isolate caused by COVID-19. Once the legislation has been passed, this will apply retrospectively from 13 March. You should talk to your employer if you are eligible for SSP and need to claim.
  • Do I need a sick note? Those who have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate are able to obtain an ‘isolation note’ at https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ after seven days of sickness absence. Isolation notes will be accepted by Jobcentre Plus as evidence of your inability to attend.
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Published by Sarah Russell on behalf East Lothian Conservative and Unionist Association, 4 Church Street, Haddington EH41 3EX