Work during coronavirus

Last updated: 30/04/2021

This section has information on working from home, furloughing staff, being off sick, the self-employed and more.

Grant for those self- isolating

If you been asked to self-isolate, and are on a low income you may qualify for the new Self-Isolation Support Grant.

The new £500 Grant will help if you would lose income because you need to self-isolate, and are unable to work from home.

This grant is for those who will face financial hardship due to being asked to self-isolate and will be targeted at people who are in receipt of any the benefits below, there might be some discretion to make awards to others in financial hardship. From from 7 December 2020 this grant has been extended to parents whose children are required to self-isolate, and people who have not yet claimed universal credit but are eligible.

  • universal credit
  • child tax credit
  • working tax credit
  • housing benefit
  • income-related employment and support allowance
  • income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • income support
  • working tax credit

The £500 Self-Isolation Support Grant is being significantly extended to more people on low incomes.

The grant will be available to workers earning the Real Living Wage or less, as well as those in receipt of a council tax reduction because of low income.

People with caring responsibilities for someone over 16 who is asked to self-isolate, where the carer themselves meet the other eligibility criteria, can also get the grant.

In addition, the Scottish Government is lengthening the period during which people can apply for the Self-Isolation Support Grant. They will now be able to apply within 28 days of being told to self-isolate.

The changes will take effect from 16 February to allow local authorities time to change their systems and application forms, but eligibility will be backdated to 2 February. This means an additional 200,000 people will be eligible for the grant if they are asked to self-isolate.

Applications will be delivered through the Scottish Welfare Fund, from your local authority. You can call the Self-Isolation Support National Helpline on 0800 111 4000 if you need more information.

Working from home 

Everyone who can work from home should continue to do so. Where work cannot be done at home, employers should take clear steps to help protect workers and create safe places to work.

Many employers are exercising common sense and flexibility to allow employees to reduce or vary their working hours or pattern to enable them to work around childcare needs. If you think this is an option in your role then you should raise that with your employer. Explain how the pattern could work for you and them. Scottish Government Guidance

If your employer does not agree to your request then you have the option to make a formal request for flexible working. Make it clear that your request is only temporary, or if accepted, it will become a permanent change to your contract. Check your rights.

When your job can’t be done at home, your employer should keep you safe from coronavirus. This could be by:

  • letting you travel to work at quieter times of the day
  • reducing how much face-to-face contact you have with the public
  • making sure that staff stay at least 2 metres apart in your workplace

Talk to your employer if you think there’s more they could do to keep you safe.

If you’re still working and you think the business should be closed, you can report your employer to the police or Trading Standards.

Contact our helpline for advice.

Or check

Furlough scheme Extended

The government has extended the furlough scheme until the end of Septemberl 2021. See Working Families for more information.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will now run until the end of September with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked.

Similarly, support for millions more workers through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be increased, with the third grant covering November to January calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500. Read more at www.Gov.uk

If your normal pay changes from month to month 

If you’ve been employed for a year or more, your employer should claim for whichever is higher out of: 

  • the amount you earned in the same month last year 
  • your average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year 

If you’ve had your job for less than a year, they’ll take an average of your earnings since you started. 

The Coronavirus Job Retention scheme only covers you if you’re not working. If you’re working from home, you should get your normal pay from your employer. Citizens Advice Scotland has useful information. 

If your salary is reduced or you are not eligible for the Job Retention Scheme, you may qualify for support though the social security system, including Universal Credit. Take a look at our benefits information. 

If you have more than one employer, you can be furloughed by each employer separately. Each employer can pay you a maximum of £2,500 a month. This means you could get more than £2,500 in total, if your normal pay is high enough. 

If your employer says you must continue to go to work, will not allow you to work from home, and you do not feel safe, seek advice.  Contact Working Families  on 0300 012 0312 or advice@workingfamilies.org.uk about employment rights. 

If you are pregnant 

Government guidance is that pregnant women should work from home. Your employer should help you to work from home wherever practical. You should show your employer the UK Government Guidance and discuss what action needs to be taken. 

If you have to stay home, you may be able to top up your income with Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance, or Universal Credit. You can find out more about these on our ‘Having a Baby’ page, or contact our helpline for advice. 

Help if you are self-employed

The government have said you can apply for 2 new grants from November 2020. You won’t have to pay the money back, but you’ll have to pay tax on it. Find out if you’re eligible and how much you can get. Information as it becomes available at www.gov.uk

Call our helpline for advice.

If you’re off because someone is sick 

If you’re staying at home because you have Coronavirus symptoms, you’ll be considered unfit for work. You’ll also be considered unfit for work if you’re staying at home, or ‘self-isolating’, because you’ve been in contact with someone with Coronavirus. You’ll get statutory sick pay (SSP) of £96.35 per week if you are an employee, and you normally earn on average £120 per week.  If you’re not sure, you can check if you’re entitled to SSP on the Turn2Us website or call the Lone Parent Helpline on 0808 801 0323. 

Usually, you are not entitled to SSP for the first three days off work. But if you are self-isolating, you will be paid from the first day of your self-isolation. If you are still self-isolating and off work after seven days, you can get an online self-isolation note from the NHS website. 

Your employer may have a company sick pay scheme in place that pays you more than SSP. Have a look at what your contract says or check with your HR department. 

Coronavirus – if you need to be off work to care for someone else. You might be able to get help if you’re off work caring for someone who is normally looked after another way. This might be because your child is self-isolating and can’t go to school, or an older person’s carer can’t come. See Citizen Advice Scotland or call the lone parent helpline on 0808 801 0323 for more advice. 

Employment and Support Allowance 

If you are not entitled to SSP and you’ve paid enough National Insurance contributions, you may be entitled to New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). If you’re self-employed, you can’t claim SSP but you may be able to claim new style ESA if you’ve paid enough National Insurance contributions. 

Even if you discover you’re not entitled to ESA, it can be worth claiming so you get National Insurance credits which could be important if you end up being off work for a long time. 

Other benefits

You may also be able to claim Universal Credit to top up your SSP or ESA, especially for help with children and rent. But if you already get Tax Credits and Housing Benefit you may be better off staying on these benefits. Contact our helpline.