As the number of coronavirus cases in Britain ramps up, more people are being forced to take time out of their jobs. Even those who have not contracted the virus, including parents whose children cannot go to school and people considered to be high-risk, are finding they’re unable to work.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a raft of measures to protect the incomes of people having to take time off because of coronavirus in his Budget speech. However some workers will still fall through the cracks and critics have said the measures did not go far enough.
Will you still be paid and, if so, how much? Here Telegraph Money outlines your rights.
Will I still be paid?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that workers who are self-isolating because they have developed symptoms should not be penalised for doing the right thing.
He said that those self-isolating should receive sick pay from day one.
They will immediately be entitled to £94.25 per week, the current rate of statutory sick pay, which is usually only paid from the fourth consecutive day of illness. However this will only apply to those who are already eligible for statutory sick pay.
The statutory amount is around one sixth of the average pay of a full-time employee, meaning that many will be left worse off. Some employers will pay workers their full salary during periods of illness.
Who is eligible for statutory sick pay?
If you are employed and earn on average at least £118 per week before tax you are legally entitled to statutory sick pay.
This means that the self-employed and those working on low-paid zero-hour contracts are excluded. Agricultural workers, those in the armed forces and women who are already receiving maternity pay are also not eligible for sick pay.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC), a federation of unions, has warned that workers in these kinds of roles may feel they have no choice but to work, even if they are advised not to. Nearly two million workers, including a third of zero-hours contract workers, do not qualify for statutory sick pay. It also includes over half of workers aged 65 and over – a group which has been identified by the Government as one of the most vulnerable to coronavirus.
To tackle the issue, Mr Sunak has announced that the Government will pay self-employed people 80pc of their typical earnings up to a maximum of £2,500 a month if they can prove they have been adversely affected by the pandemic.
However not everyone will qualify for the support and even those that do will have to wait until at least June before their first payment. Until then self-employed people will have to rely on the benefits system.
The Government has temporarily raised the payments for Universal Credit to £94.25 a week to match the levels of statutory sick pay, yet this is far below the average weekly pay of a self-employed worker.
New claimant may also find themselves waiting for weeks before they receive their first pay cheque because of the time taken to process applications for Universal Credit.
I’m a student: will I get compensation for lost time?
Chris Adrianus has also been affected. As a 25-year-old PhD student at Imperial College London he still received his usual stipend during his 14-day quarantine however for more than a week after that he had to work until midnight to make up the lost time.
“I’m having to be incredibly efficient about everything,” he said.
Emma Reid, of law firm Ergo Law, said that, as Phd students are not generally considered employees, they usually fall outside of the scope of protection offered by employment legislation.
What if my child’s school has been closed?
Schools across the country have had to close their doors because of the coronavirus epidemic. The Government has not yet said when they will reopen.
Michael Legge, an employment lawyer at JMW Solicitors, said that some employer may allow employees working from home to arrange this to accommodate caring for children too.
If this isn’t possible parents will have to look at taking emergency dependent leave, unpaid leave or using some of their annual leave entitlement, impacting either their pay or their holiday plans for the rest of the year.
“It all depends how generous your employer is so it is always worth making your case given the unusual circumstances,” Mr Legge explained.
If you’re still unsure about your rights the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service has some useful guidelines for both employees and employers.
Have you been told to stay at home from work because of the coronavirus or have a child who has? We’d like to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org