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Coronavirus - help for employees

Are you an employee experiencing financial problems due to coronavirus.

Find out what help may be available to you.

There is different support in place for employees and people who are self-employed.

If you aren’t sure if you’re an employee or self-employed, you can use the government’s online tool.

Furlough scheme

  • End October - Furlough Scheme ends
  • 1 November - Job Support Scheme begins

If you are still on furlough, you should speak to your employer about what their plans are for when the scheme ends.

Some employers have been claiming money through the furlough scheme and not passing it on to their employees. You can check what money your employer has told the government they paid you using HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC's) online account tools.

If your employer has reported pay and you haven't been paid, please get advice.

Job Support Scheme (JSS)

From 1 November, employers can access support through the Job Support Scheme (JSS).

The JSS is different from the furlough scheme. The help available depends on the status of the business:

Businesses closed due to the Covid-19 restrictions in their area 

Employers will be given funding to cover two-thirds of staff's usual earnings. Staff should therefore expect to receive two-thirds of their usual earnings.

This is open to employers who have not previously used the furlough scheme and to employees who were not eligible for furlough.

Businesses closed but not legally required to close

These businesses will not receive any support through the JSS.

Businesses allowed to open

To be able to claim for an employee, that employee has to be working at least one fifth of their usual hours.

The remaining hours that the employee is not working are then covered:

• 5% by the employer

• 62% by the government

• 33% by the employee losing earnings.

Negotiate with your employer

Employers have a lot of flexibility about what hours they claim through this scheme, so you will need to negotiate with your employer to agree what hours you are going to work. This scheme allows your employer to change what percentage of your usual hours you work from week to week.

At a minimum, employees on this scheme should receive 73% of their usual earnings. Working out what earnings you should get is complicated.

Examples

You work 35 hours per week for £10 per hour and have normal weekly earnings of £350 per week. 

Example 1

Under the JSS, if you are asked to work for seven hours, you will be paid: 

  • £70 for the hours you work

  • £172.67 from JSS - paid to your employer and passed on to you

  • £14 from your employer's money

Total pay = 256.67

Example 2

Under the JSS, if you are asked to work 17.5 hours, you will be paid:

  • £175 for the hours you work

  • £107.92 from JSS - paid to your employer and passed on to you

  • £8.75 from your employer's money

Total pay = £291.67

Frequently asked questions

What can I do if I am not getting any hours at work or have been made redundant?

Check whether your employer had the right to cut your hours or your employer had the right to make you redundant.

Check our redundancy guide to see what to do next.

Use our Benefits Calculator to check what benefits you can claim.

Use our Grants Search to check whether there are any charities that might be able to support you.

What can I do if my employer has reduced my hours?

You should check whether your employer has the right to reduce your hours.

If your employer is reducing your hours, you could ask them whether they would be willing to claim through the Job Support Scheme for you.

Use our Benefits Calculator to check what benefits you can claim.

Use our Grants Search to check whether there are any charities that might be able to support you.

What can I do if I have been advised by the government to shield?

Some people in particularly high risk groups in areas with local lockdowns have been advised by the government to 'shield' themselves.

You are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay if you usually earn at least £120 per week. It does not matter how long you have been working for your employer or whether you are full-time or part-time. If you are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, you will receive £95.85 per week.

If you are not in a local lockdown area, you won't necessarily be able to get Statutory Sick Pay, though you could talk to your doctor to see if they would be willing to sign you off sick. 

The Access to Work Scheme has additional support for people who are vulnerable to coronavirus, and so might need help getting to work without using public transport, or might need additional support to keep them safe at work or enable them to work from home.

Use our Benefits Calculator to check what benefits you can claim. 

Use our Grants Search to check whether there are any charities that might be able to support you. 

If you need help accessing food or medicine, you should contact your local council who will put you in touch with volunteer groups in your area.

What can I do if I can’t work because I have to look after my child?

If you can’t do your job because you need to look after your children, you should check your employment contract. Some contracts give people paid time off to look after dependents.

Your employer has to give you time off to look after your children. However, they don’t necessarily have to pay you while you are off.

Use our Benefits Calculator to check what benefits you can claim.

Use our Grants Search to check whether there are any charities that might be able to support you. 

What if I can’t work because I am sick with coronavirus or I am self isolating because someone in my household is sick with coronavirus?

If you are an employee and you usually earn at least £120 per week, you should be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay of £95.85 per week. You might also be entitled to contractual sick pay, which would mean you would be paid more than £95.85 per week.

It doesn’t matter if you are full time or part time. As long as you earn at least £120 per week, you will be paid the full rate of Statutory Sick Pay.

Your employer should not ask you for a sick note for the first seven days. Employers have been asked not to ask for sick notes at all, but some still might. If your employer does need you to provide a sick note, you can get one using the NHS online service.

If you are getting certain benefits and live in England or Scotland you may be able to get a £500 one-off Coronavirus Self Isolation Payment to support you while you self isolate.

Use our Benefits Calculator to check what benefits you can claim. 

Use our Grants Search to check whether there are any charities that might be able to support you.

I am worried about Council Tax. What can I do?

If you are struggling with Council Tax, use our Benefits Calculator to see if you are entitled to Council Tax Reduction. If you are, contact your council to make a claim for it.

Your council may also offer a discretionary scheme to help with Council Tax. This might be able to help even if you are not entitled to Council Tax Reduction or if your Council Tax Reduction doesn’t cover all the Council Tax you have to pay.

Some councils are offering payment holidays on council tax. Check your council's website to see what their rules are.

I am worried about bills. What can I do?

Mortgage

If you have a mortgage and are struggling to meet your payments, you can ask your lender for a mortgage holiday. This won’t affect your credit rating. However, other lenders might be able to see you have had a mortgage holiday. 

The mortgage holiday scheme was extended on 4 June 2020. People will be able to request mortgage holidays until 31 October 2020.

If your mortgage holiday is coming to an end, it is important to communicate with your mortgage lender. You can get another holiday of up to three months or other help such as cancelling interest. If your mortgage lender doesn't hear from you, they might assume you can afford to start making payments again.

Rent

If you are struggling with your rent, first check what help you can get through the benefits system.

If you live in Wales, you may be able to get a loan to help pay your rent.

You could also speak to your landlord and ask if they would be willing to let you pay rent late. The suspension on evictions has come to an end, so if you are behind on your rent, it is very important you get advice as soon as possible. 

Household bills

If you are struggling with household bills, speak to your utility providers and let them know why you’re struggling.

Lots of utility providers have schemes in place to help people who are struggling with money because of coronavirus.

Debts

If you have debts, get in touch with your creditors and ask them if you could suspend payment. Lots of lenders have special policies in place to help people who are affected by coronavirus.

Credit cards and personal loans

You can ask for a three-month payment holiday on credit card debts and personal loans. This will not affect your credit rating. However, other lenders might be able to see that you took a payment holiday. When the payment holiday comes to an end, you can request one further one or can ask to make smaller payments.

Interest-free overdrafts

You can ask your bank for a £500 interest-free overdraft facility on your current account. The overdraft will be interest free for three months. If you have already had an overdraft for three months, you can ask for a further three months overdraft. If you are already overdrawn by less than £500, you won't be charged any fees. 

Car loans

You can ask for a three-month payment holiday on car loans. If you come to the end of a payment holiday, you can ask for a further three month holiday.

Payday loans

You can ask for a one-month payment holiday on payday loans. At the end of that month, you should get in touch with your lender to see if they are willing to offer further support. If you are struggling with payday loans, you should get free, independent, non-judgemental debt advice.

Pawned possessions

If you have pawned any of your possessions, you can ask for a three-month extension on repayments before the items you have pawned are sold.  If you come to the end of a payment holiday, you can ask for a further three months.

Rent-to-own

If you have any items on rent-to-own, you can ask for a three month payment holiday. If you come to the end of a payment holiday, you can ask for a further three months.

Get free specialist debt help

Payment holidays are only a temporary fix and won't help with debt problems in the long term. If you are worried about debt, you should get free, specialist debt help

Everyone knows this is a stressful, difficult time for a lot of people. There is a lot of support out there but if you don’t ask for it you won’t get it.

Updated: 22 October 2020

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