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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Employees’ Guide

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) dramatically disrupting everyday life and business, many employees are finding themselves at a loose end. Some will be furloughed, while others may even lose their jobs. It is an uncertain time with a lot to consider for everyone.

Visit our coronavirus help page

What if I get laid off because of coronavirus?

Stories of firms struggling are rife in the news, and many employees could have doubts as to whether they’ll still have jobs once the coronavirus has gone. Fortunately, in the UK, businesses can take advantage of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This scheme allows staff to be temporarily laid off (or furloughed) while remaining employed; your employer will pay a portion of your wage. Speak to your employer to find out if they’ve applied for the scheme.

Find out more about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

What if I am self-employed?

While those on company payrolls have support, self-employed sole traders have less to fall back on and may find themselves struggling to cover their outgoings. Self-employed workers can’t claim sick pay, although, in the current climate, they’re now eligible to apply for Universal Credit, and in some cases, the ‘new style’ Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

More coronavirus advice for sole traders

Is my job essential work?

Although plenty of businesses have been ordered to close, some remain open. ‘Essential’ workplaces include: Food shops, medical shops, petrol stations, off-licences, banks, and hardware shops. A full list can be found on

If your workplace is on the ‘essentials’ list, there’s a chance you may still be called into work. If you’re unsure, speak to your employer. Should you continue working during the pandemic, your employer should ensure you can work safely, and adhere to social distancing where possible.

If your work isn’t classed as ‘essential’, the government advises you only to go to your workplace if you cannot work from home.

Will I get sick pay if I get coronavirus?

If you display the symptoms, you should follow the self-isolation procedure and not go to work. You can claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks, paid by your employer from the first day of your absence from work.

More coronavirus help available for employees and individuals

Can I work from home?

Even if your place of work doesn’t fall into the ‘essential’ category, you might still be able to work remotely. Working from home means closer compliance with social distancing rules, simply because you’re less likely to meet people.

Thanks to advancements in the internet and computer technology, more people can work from home nowadays. If your employer believes you can feasibly complete your work remotely, they may have spoken to you about the possibility of working from home.

Coronavirus employees guide

What if I get into debt because of coronavirus?

The thought of not being able to cover your liabilities would be worrying at the best of times. With the recent restrictions, more people might be concerned about falling behind on a mortgage, rent payments, or any other outgoings.

If you’re worried about falling into debt as a result of the coronavirus, there are methods to help you repay what you can afford.

One of the most popular of these measures is an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), a formal arrangement between you and your creditors. The arrangement lets you repay your debts in affordable monthly amounts over a period of usually five years. If appropriate, an IVA can be a feasible alternative to bankruptcy.

More information about an IVA

If the debt is mostly to HMRC, you can also apply for a Time to Pay Arrangement (TTP). Doing so will show an intention to pay them back what you owe.

How we can help

If you’re struggling to cover your outgoings because of coronavirus related circumstances, speak to us for free impartial advice with no obligation. Our advisors are regulated by ICAEW, so you can be sure you’re getting the best advice for your circumstances, whether that’s repaying your debts via an IVA, or via a Time to Pay Arrangement to HMRC.

Beverley Horton

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