COVID-19: Employment support and advice

The Government have set out a number of measures to support employees affected by the disruption to businesses caused by COVID-19.

These measures include advice and support on:

Guidance is being updated in line with the changing situation on GOV.UK

Advice for employees

Staying at home

If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, please follow medical advice and stay at home. Do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started. Government advice to employers is to encourage their employees to work at home, wherever possible.

For more advice see the government's stay at home guidance,

Sick pay (SSP)

You can get £95.85 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.

If you are staying at home because of COVID-19 you can now claim SSP. This includes individuals who are caring for people in the same household 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 for more information.

You cannot get SSP if you’re self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK and do not need to self-isolate for any other reason.

If you’re self-employed or not eligible for SSP

If you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you are self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or new style Employment and Support Allowance.

If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home.

Please refer to our support for the self employed page for more information.

Furloughed workers

If your employer cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19, they may be able to access support to continue paying part of your wage, to avoid redundancies.

If your employer intends to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being made redundant.

  • For September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for time they are furloughed.
  • For October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for time they are furloughed.

View more information on the changes to the Job Retention Scheme.

You will remain employed while furloughed. Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to. If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

The Job Support Scheme (Winter Economy Plan)

A new Job Support Scheme will be introduced from 1 November to protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to coronavirus.

Under the scheme, which will run for six months and help keep employees attached to the workforce, the government will contribute towards the wages of employees who are working fewer than normal hours due to decreased demand.

Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work - but for the hours not worked, the government and the employer will each pay one third of their equivalent salary.

This means employees who can only go back to work on shorter time will still be paid two thirds of the hours for those hours they can’t work.

To support only viable jobs, employees must be working at least 33% of their usual hours. The level of grant will be calculated based on employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month.

In addition, the Government is continuing its support for millions of self-employed individuals by extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme Grant (SEISS). An initial taxable grant will be provided to those who are currently eligible for SEISS and are continuing to actively trade but face reduced demand due to coronavirus. The initial lump sum will cover three months’ worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January 2021. This is worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875.

An additional second grant, which may be adjusted to respond to changing circumstances, will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April - ensuring our support continues right through to next year. This is in addition to the more than £13 billion of support already provided for over 2.6 million self-employed individuals through the first two stages of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme – one of the most generous in the world.

Claiming benefits

Whether you are currently in or out of work, if you are on a low income and affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19, you will be able to access the full range of the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

From 6 April the Government are increasing the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for 1 year. Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating.

This will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants.

If you have COVID-19 or are staying at home, you are now able to claim Universal Credit, and if required can access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a jobcentre.

View more information on Work and Financial Support.

Changes to health assessments

Considering the current coronavirus outbreak, the Department for Work and Pensions has taken the precautionary decision to temporarily suspend all face-to-face assessments for health and disability-related benefits. This was aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to coronavirus and safeguarding the health of individuals claiming health and disability benefits, many of whom are likely to be at greater risk due to their pre-existing health conditions.

  • Face-to-face assessments to remain suspended, but kept under review
  • Some review and reassessment activity to gradually resume from July 2020 for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • People are encouraged not to delay making claims as all benefits remain open and telephone and paper based assessments are in place where appropriate

This temporary suspension, initially brought in for three months to protect people from unnecessary risk of coronavirus at the outset of the pandemic, will remain in place following a consideration of the latest public health guidance. We will announce any changes to this in due course.

All services remain open and people are encouraged to make a claim if they believe they need support, or to update the department on a change of their circumstances.

Mortgage Payment Holidays

The Government has announced that all homeowners will be able to claim a three-month break from their mortgage repayments if they are unable to pay because of coronavirus.

Read about mortgage payment holidays.

Protection for renters affected by coronavirus

The Government has announced measures to protect renters affected by coronavirus. As a result, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.

Skills Toolkit

The Government has recently produced a new online Skills Toolkit which provides easy to access, free, high-quality digital and numeracy courses to help build up skills, progress in work and boost job prospects. The platform offers a range of courses at all levels from introductory to advanced and is open to everyone, whether they have been recently furloughed and want to learn new skills, are out of work or are just keen to keep busy during time spent at home.

Further support and resources

We will continue to keep this page up to date as more information becomes available.

In the meantime, you can also find support from the following resources: