As of 23 March, the Government guidance advised everyone should stay at home and only go to work when it is not possible to work from home. You may be wondering what your rights are during this lockdown period, especially in terms of work. Solicitors Halesowen is here to help!
Will I get paid if I need to self-isolate?
If you can’t work due to COVID-19, you could get statutory sick pay (SSP) for every day you are in isolation for at least 4 days. If you are self-isolating but not currently sick, you are likely to be expected to work from home on full pay.
If someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus, you can get an isolation note to send to your employer to show you need to stay off work. You do not need to worry about getting a note from your GP.
I’m on a zero-hour contract. Can I claim SSP?
Unfortunately not at the moment – unless you can show that you earn more than £120 a week from your employer.
I need to go to work! What now?
If there is no way you can work from home and it’s essential you need to travel to work, the guidelines issued by the government state that you need to stay two metres apart from anyone – social distancing 0 and your employer should be putting in steps to ensure that social distancing rules are adhered to.
What about my employer, what do they need to do?
Your employer’s requirements are:
- To ensure your place of work is sanitised regularly
- To provide you with personal protective equipment (PPE) if you need it
If they are not doing this or you feel your company isn’t adhering to this, please raise this with them and contact your union if necessary.
I’m going to have lots of annual leave leftover. When am I supposed to take it?
On 27 March, the government announced new regulations to allow up to four weeks of annual leave to be carried over into the next 2 years.
What about my children?
All schools have been closed, so you should keep your children at home where possible. Schools have remained open for the children of key workers.
If you need to stay at home, you are entitled by law to unpaid dependent leave.
Transport closures mean I can’t get to work
If you cannot work from home and you’re struggling to get to work as your transport link has been closed, you should speak to your employer to discuss any options. Some options they might give you include paying for taxis, more leniency with working hours to allow for extra time to get in, or offering free parking.
I’m pregnant. What about me?
On March 16 it was advised that pregnant women should work from home if they can. In addition to this, it was strongly advised that pregnant women are stringent about social distancing.
If your job is not suitable for home working then your employer should be considering temporarily moving you to an area of the business that involves you being able to work from home during this crisis on full pay.
If this is still not an option, your employer should be taking additional steps, such as providing you with additional PPE and making sure social distancing is being adhered to. they should also be thinking about delegating some of your duties or providing alternative employment at the same rate of pay if they can.
If none of the above is possible, they are required to suspend you from work on full pay for as long as needed. This should be based on what you usually earn as opposed to your contractual hours. You should not be placed on sick pay.
If you are disabled, over 70 or have an underlying health condition
Can my employer refuse home working?
For people with an underlying health condition the government “strongly advises” that you work from home in guidance released on 16 March.
On 23 March updated government guidance advised that all workers should stay at home and only go to work where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
Employers should, therefore, consider allowing you to work from home if at all possible. If your job isn’t suitable for home working then your employer should consider whether you can be temporarily re-deployed to a role that would allow home working for the duration of this crisis.
If working from home is not possible your employer should undertake a risk assessment to identify any additional steps they need to take, such as re-allocating some of your duties or providing you with additional personal protective equipment.
Local government employers have already acknowledged that in some cases they will need to allow staff who can’t work from home to stay at home on full pay.
How long do I need to stay at home for, will it be a long time?
The government has asked everyone to reduce social contact. This is called “social distancing”.
However, older and disabled people and those with underlying conditions are the most at risk from COVID-19. The government says that those in the most at-risk groups (people who are instructed to get a flu jab) should be particularly “stringent” about social distancing.
Government guidance on social distancing
The government has also issued additional advice for people who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 and you should check below if you are in this group.
What if I am shielded and at high risk of becoming seriously ill from coronavirus?
The list of high-risk people includes:
- Those who have had an organ transplant
- Anyone undergoing certain types of cancer treatment
- Those suffering from blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia
- Anyone with a severe lung condition, such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma
- If you have a condition that makes you much more likely to get the infection
- You are medicine that weakens your immune system
- You are pregnant and have a serious heart condition
If you fall into any of these groups, you should have received a letter from the NHS with advice on “shielding” which is a way of protecting very vulnerable people from the virus.
The government has urged people in this category to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks from the day you receive your letter.
The government advice means that you are strongly advised not to go to work. Speak to your UNISON branch if you think your employer is not following the guidance.
Do you think you should be in the high-risk category but you have not received your letter? Make sure you contact your GP by phone.
I receive sickness and/or disability benefits. How does this affect me?
The government has announced that face-to-face health assessments for sickness and disability benefits will be suspended and that there will be no new reviews or re-assessments of such claims for three months. Existing awards will be extended for this period.