Coronavirus FAQs

If you need to know how your rights are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have addressed the most common issues on this page.

Furlough

What is furlough?

The Government allows employers to keep staff on the payroll if they’re unable to operate due to coronavirus (COVID-19). This is known as being ‘on furlough’.

How much can I get?

You could get paid 80% of your wages, up to a monthly cap of £2,500. Some employers may even cover the rest, so that your wages remain unchanged.

Can I ask my employer to furlough me?

You can ask. But furlough is a possibility, not a right. Employers have the freedom to choose the members of staff they put on furlough. In some cases, they may not apply for furlough at all.

What if I struggle in the meantime?

If you struggle to support yourself, apply for Universal Credit. This is a government benefit which can help you cover living costs. You don’t have to pay it back. You will just have to inform Universal Credit when you start earning again, to avoid having to pay it back later.

I am a zero hours or agency worker

Ask your employer to put you ‘on furlough’. The Government allows employers to keep staff on the payroll if they’re unable to operate or have no work for you because of (COVID-19). This is known as being ‘on furlough’. You could get paid 80% of your wages, up to a monthly cap of £2,500. But remember: furlough is a possibility, not a right.

If you are made redundant, depending on your contract you might be eligible for: a notice period, remaining holiday, and redundancy pay. Statutory redundancy pay is available if you are an employee and have been working for your employer for 2 years or more.

Apply for Universal Credit. If you can no longer work and you struggle to support yourself, you can apply for Universal Credit. This is a government benefit which can help you cover living costs. You don’t have to pay it back. You will just have to inform Universal Credit when you start earning again, to avoid having to pay it back later.

I am Self-Employed

If you’re self-employed, have submitted your tax return for 2018-2019, and you are still trading, you may qualify for 80% from HMRC for 3 or more months. 

If you qualify, you don’t have to do anything. HMRC will contact you mid-end May. You should receive the money at the beginning of June. 

If you struggle to support yourself in the meantime, you can apply for Universal Credit. This is a government benefit which can help you cover living costs. You don’t have to pay it back. You will just have to inform Universal Credit when you start earning again, to avoid overpayment. If you qualify, you will receive the money in 4 to 5 weeks.

See the official government guidance.

I still have to work, but I fear for my health

Some businesses are still required to operate. These are known as key sectors. This includes supermarkets, local authorities, food processing and other essential services.

Ask your boss to implement social distancing measures. The government advises that employers maintain a distance of at least 2 metres (3 steps) between individuals wherever possible. They should be encouraged to wash their hands or use hand sanitiser. But following this advice remains at the discretion of employers.

If you still feel unsafe, ask your manager if you can work from home. Do it in writing. You should have evidence to back up (pictures, video).  If you are told that you cannot work from home, check what your contract and workplace policies are. You might be able take unpaid leave and still keep your job. But this doesn’t apply everywhere. 

Can I be dismissed? The short answer is yes. If you take the unilateral decision to absent from work because you consider the workplace is unsafe, you may face a disciplinary meeting which can lead to your dismissal. Missing work can also constitute grounds for dismissal. If you think your employer is breaching Public Health  England Guidelines, contact ACAS (03001231100) or see the link for further advice. 

What if I lost my work? If you struggle to support yourself, apply for Universal Credit. This is a government benefit which can help you cover living costs. You don’t have to pay it back. You will just have to inform Universal Credit when you start earning again, to avoid having to pay it back later.

Can I be evicted during the Coronavirus lockdown?

Due to the coronavirus crisis, the government announced at the end of March that there is a ban on evictions for at least a 3 months period. There are no possessions proceedings through the court during this period of time either. No one has a right to throw you out of your home.

Official government guidance on protections for renters

What if I don’t have a contract?

Even if you don’t have a tenancy agreement, and you struggle to pay rent, the emergency legislation put in place at the end of March states that the landlord cannot evict you for min 3 months. At the end of this period, you will have to agree with the landlord a plan for backwards payment. If the landlord tries to force you to leave, call the police, your local council, local Citizen Advice Bureau for legal advice and Shelter

 

Universal credit

Do I qualify? If you no longer have work and you struggle to support yourself, you can apply for Universal Credit. This is a government benefit which can help you cover living costs.

How do I apply? To make an application, visit https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit A member of staff will call you within approximately one week to confirm it. If you are eligible, you should receive your your first payment within 4 weeks.

How much can I get? Universal credit is based on your income. The financial support you receive is based on how much you earn. It is not a loan and you do not have to pay it back.

But remember: if you are granted Universal Credit, you will have to report any changes in circumstances when they happen: change of income, address, name. The benefit will be recalculated accordingly. If you start earning and you do not report it, you will either have to repay any ‘overpayment’, or it will be deducted from future payments. 

For eligibility criteria and how to apply, see the official government page.