My Job – What are my rights?

I am self-isolating, what are my rights?

If you are an employee, you will be paid Statutory Sick Pay (“SSP”), if you need to self-isolate for the following reasons:

  • If you have Coronavirus
  • If you have symptoms of Coronavirus
  • If someone in your house has Coronavirus symptoms

If you earn at least £118 per week, you will receive £94.25 per week of SSP for up to 28 weeks, this increases to £95.85 from 6 April 2020. This should be paid to you from day one of your self-isolation.

If you are self-employed or don’t qualify for SSP, then you may be entitled to claim Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance.

Some employers have contractual sick pay arrangements that are better than SSP, so you should check your Employment Contract and Staff Handbook to see if this applies to you.

If your employer is refusing to pay sick pay, you should get legal advice immediately.

Instead of a “Sick” or “Fit” Note, you will need to obtain an on-line Self-Isolation Note from the NHS website to provide to your employer as evidence of your self-isolation.

Can I work from home?

The current advice from the Government emphasises working at home and, in this period of lock-down, it is only those who are essential and can’t do their job from home who should go to work at their usual place of work. If your job allows it, then you should work from home and many places are now shut and generally, if you can work from home, you probably are already doing so.

I still have to go to work and am worried about my commute to work, what are my rights?

An employer has a duty to protect their staff and provide a safe environment for them to work in. If you are really concerned about your journey to work, then we would suggest discussing this with your employer at the earliest opportunity and try and arrange some form of flexible working or alternative means of getting to and from work. Options could include paid or unpaid leave or being Furloughed under the Government’s Furlough Scheme.

Generally, you cannot unreasonably refuse to work and to do so would result in disciplinary action but this is an extremely serious situation and our view is that the Courts would not take kindly to an employer who was not accommodating in addressing any genuinely held concerns about an individual’s travel to their workplace. Most employers will be considerate. If they are not, you should consider taking legal advice.

My place of work has temporarily shut, what are my rights?

The Government has introduced a “Job Retention Scheme” in the form of Furloughing.

Furloughing is where your employer lays you off but, as a result of the Government scheme, pays you at least 80% of your normal salary up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

You are eligible for this scheme if you were on the payroll on 28 February 2020. If you have been laid-off or made redundant since that date, as a result of COVID-19, then you could ask your employer to reinstate you so that you can benefit from this scheme. We have had mixed reports of some employers being prepared to do this and others not, but it is always worth asking. The Furloughing period can last from anywhere between three weeks and three months. It is something you should agree with your employer and we would strongly suggest that the agreement to put you on Furlough is documented in writing.

What happens if I am not eligible for Furloughing?

An employer can either lay you off or dismiss you or request that you use some of your annual leave.


Your employer will need to give you twice the amount of notice as the length of time they want you to take off, for example, if they want you to take two days off, they should give you four days’ notice. This can be unpaid.


If your role ceases to exist as a result of COVID-19, then you could be made redundant. This is a complex area of law and advice is best taken on it but your employer has a duty to make sure that you are treated fairly and to ensure that you will receive everything you are due in financial terms.

Use of Holiday

An employer can ask you to utilise holiday to cover the period of closure. You will need to check your Contract of Employment to see if they are allowed to do this and if it is not expressly included, then they will need to agree that with you.

I am self-employed and I can’t work due to the Coronavirus, what are my rights?

The Government have recently put in place a Self-Employed Income Support Scheme to help those who are self-employed (or are members of a partnership) who have lost income due to the Coronavirus. To be eligible for the scheme, more than 50 per cent of your income must be from self-employment and your self-employed profits must be less than £50,000 per annum. You must also satisfy the following conditions:

  • You submitted your Income Tax Self-Assessment Tax Return for 2018/2019 (needs to be filed before 23 April 2020)
  • You traded in the tax year 2019/2020
  • You are still trading or would expect to be were it not for COVID-19
  • You intend to continue trading in the tax year 2020/2021
  • You have lost trading profits due to COVID-19

If you can satisfy these criteria, you will be eligible for a tax grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for three months. At the moment, it is intended this would be paid in one payment, and it is expected to be paid in June 2020. At the moment, it is assumed that this will be back-dated for March, April and May.

If you earned more than £50,000, an average will be taken from 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 tax years, if this is less than £50,000 and constituted more than half of your income, you will still be eligible.

You can still work whilst claiming this but if you are not, you can also claim Universal Credit.

HMRC has stated that it will contact people who are eligible for the scheme and will encourage them to apply on-line but, as with all these things, if you believe you are eligible, we would suggest you do not wait for HMRC’s letter and regularly check their website and apply as soon as it is live.

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