COVID19 – FAQ

As we are all aware, the current situation in the UK has caused unprecedented circumstances which have led to severe uncertainty and numerous concerns. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions which may help or ease your worries and if not, you can contact us on 01482 379528 or info@frantzgregory.co.uk and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

 

What will happen if I am laid off work?

During these uncertain times, there is still a large amount of legislation to protect employees from being unfairly dismissed. An employer must have shown that they gave a valid reason which can be justified, and they must show they acted reasonably in the circumstances. Employees can be dismissed for several reasons. If you have been dismissed as a result of an illness or redundancy, or you believe you may have been unfairly dismissed, it is vital that you seek legal advice immediately. You can contact our office on the information provided above and we can assist in answering any queries surrounding your employment.

If you have been laid off from work you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit. The standard allowance for a single Universal Credit claimant aged 25 or over is £409.89 per month. To apply, follow this link https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit. There may be other options you are entitled to such as lay-off payments and short-time working payments. You just need to check the government website to determine whether you qualify for additional assistance.

You could also talk to your former employer about the possibility of remaining on the payroll. It may be that your former employer had been experiencing difficulties due to the effects of coronavirus. More information about this option is provided below.

I’m self-employed, what will happen to my income due to government guidelines?

If you are self-employed you won’t be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, however, you can claim Universal Credit providing you meet the usual eligibility criteria. From 06 April 2020, the Minimum Income Floor requirements have been temporarily relaxed and this will last the duration of the outbreak. You will have to report any earnings accumulated during this period and this will be considered when working out how much Universal Credit you will receive in a later month.

I am an employer and I cannot cover staff costs. What do I do?

To avoid redundancies and laying off any employees, an employer may be able to support their staff by retaining their services and continuing to pay part of their wage. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows for employees to be classified as ‘furloughed workers.’ This allows for employers to keep employees on the payroll. An employer can claim a grant of up to 80% of the employees’ wage, but this is capped at £2,500 a month. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is expected to run for at least 3 months, but this may be extended if necessary.

If you are an employee and have been laid off, you can get this payment if your former employer agrees to reinstate you immediately and will retain your services later. It is important to note for both employees and employers, the employee must not work. If any hours are added to the payroll, then the employee will not be entitled to 80% of their wages. If the employee takes on any work elsewhere, this also means they will no longer be entitled.

If you are an employer and want to pursue the dismissal of an employee, it is advised that you follow the correct procedures and seek legal advice beforehand, or you may face the possibility of an unfair dismissal claim.

I’ve been told not to go into work, what happens now?

You should talk to your employer about your options. If you can work from home, then you may be entitled to your normal wage. If you cannot work from home, then you may be able to join the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which allows for employees to be kept on until the emergency is over whilst still receiving 80% of your wage. Every single role is different and the only way this can be determined is by discussing this with your employer.

If you have been dismissed, then the circumstances surrounding this will need to be assessed. The main factors to be considered would be your length of service and the reason for dismissal, but as previously stated it is important to seek legal advice immediately.

I believe I might have coronavirus, what do I do?

If you are an employee and are staying at home because of COVID-19 you can claim Statutory Sick Pay. SSP is £94.25 a week and this is also available to individuals who are caring for people in the same household as those with COVID-19 and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine. To check your sick pay entitlement, you should talk to your employer and visit the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) page at https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay for more information including eligibility and exceptions.

If your employer has asked for proof of sickness, you may be able to obtain an isolation note. This is evidence for employers that you have been advised to self-isolate, either because you have symptoms or live with someone who has symptoms. The isolation note service can be accessed here https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19

My child’s school has closed. How am I expected to work?

Government guidelines have been released to limit the spread of COVID-19. This means self-isolation and social distancing. Children have been asked to remain at home wherever possible. However, schools do remain open but only to children who absolutely need to attend. These children are those identified as vulnerable children or children whose parents work is critical to the COVID-19 response. These roles can range between doctors and nurses to those involved in food production and distribution.

It is vital that we follow government guidelines and remain at home. However, that may not be possible due to the reality that some parents may work in the critical sectors. You can find a list of the critical sectors at the following link – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision but if you do not work in any of the critical sectors then it is expected that you remain at home with your child or children until further notice.

As an employee, you do have a right to take a type of leave called ‘time off for dependants.’ If your job does not fall under the critical sectors and your child is not allowed to remain in school, but your employer expects you to continue to work, then this right allows you to take ‘reasonable’ time off to take care of an emergency relating to a child or dependant. This includes school closures. It is important to note that the ‘reasonable’ depends on the circumstances. If you experience any issues relating to work do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist with your enquiries.

What if I am on a 10-hour or a zero-hour contract?

Although the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme appears to be a valid solution, the government has not yet published all the details surrounding this. It has been predicted that if an employee is on a 10-hour contract, then they could be paid for 8 of those. Anyone on a zero-hour contract could be entitled up to 80% of their average monthly wage. Unfortunately, this has not yet been confirmed, as already stated, these details have not been released yet and as soon as they are, we will be happy to assist anyone with any further queries. However, as every job role is different and every contract varies, the most practical solution would be to communicate with your employer to understand what your options may be.

When can I return to work?

We are keeping up to date with any information being released by the government. As it stands, there is no set date for employees to return to work. You should only return if you work in a critical sector and it is highly necessary. We advise everyone to remain at home where possible, only to leave their residencies when necessary to perform certain essential and critical activities and to work to support critical infrastructure sectors. Whilst outside, stay 2 metres away from individuals and wash your hands as soon as you return. We will keep our clients updated as much as we can and we will continue to support our clients as far as possible.

 

*information correct at the time of publication- 7pm 26th March 2020