Coronavirus Crisis- Know Your Employment Rights.

Self-Isolation and Sick Pay

  • Social media is full of photographs of newly sprung home offices with #WorkingFromHome hashtags and for some, cats have quickly replaced colleagues.
  • If you can work from home then you should receive full pay to do so. However, some of you will be facing a different reality. One thing is absolute, you must not attend your place of work if you have symptoms of coronavirus, regardless of how mild your symptoms are or what your employer urges you to do. Instead, the government has ordered that you must stay at home and that you must not leave your house for 7 days counting from the first day when your symptoms started. This has been commonly termed ‘self-isolation’.
  • Similarly, if someone who you live with is self-isolating because they have symptoms, you must not attend your place of work. Instead, you must also self-isolate for 14 days. For example, if your housemate started self-isolating on 1st March then you should self-isolate until 15th March.
  • In both scenarios, it is vital that you inform your employer at the first opportunity that you cannot attend work and that any sickness absence procedure is followed. For example, if you would normally have to fill in a sickness absence form and return it to HR, then follow this procedure for self-isolation as well. In addition, provide as much supporting evidence as possible.
  • For example, you can get an ‘isolation note’ for your employer by visiting If you cannot access this, call 111 and keep a record of your call and note down any advice. The waiting time maybe a couple of hours to speak with 111 so you may choose to ask your employer whether they will accept some other form of evidence instead.
  • Alternatively, you may have been advised by your doctor to self-isolate because you are particularly vulnerable. Again, you should evidence this to your employer and follow any sickness absence procedures accordingly.
  • In terms of your entitlement to sick pay, in the first instance, you should always check your contract for a sickness policy and carefully read any sick pay provisions. If you do not have a copy of your contract then request one. Your contractual sick pay might only be paid to you where you are actually sick (i.e. suffering from coronavirus symptoms which prevent you from attending work) rather than simply self-isolating because someone else in your household is exhibiting symptoms.
  • However, if it is neither of these and your employer is the one who has insisted you self-isolate, for example, because you recently returned from Italy or China,  then you are entitled to receive your full pay.
  • If you do not have a contract which affords you sick pay or if your contract merely states that you will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (‘SSP’), then that is what you will have to claim. It is worth mentioning that you cannot claim both. For example, if you usually get £500, per week and your contract states that you will receive full pay whilst off sick, you cannot then claim SSP on top of this.
  • SSP is available from the first day for every employee who has to self-isolate, for the reasons set out above, providing the following criteria are satisfied:
  1. You are self-isolating;
  2. You are an ‘employee’ or ‘agency worker’ and have done some work for your employer;
  3. You earn an average of at least £118, per week;
  4. You tell your employer you’re sick before their deadline (within 7 days if they don’t have one);
  5. You have not already received the maximum amount of SSP (28 weeks); and
  6. You are not receiving Statutory Maternity Pay.

Statutory Sick pay

  • If you are eligible for SSP then you will receive £94.25 a week from the first day that you self-isolate (providing it’s on or after 13th March). You will be paid in the way you are normally paid (e.g. monthly) subject to tax and N.I deductions.
  • If you have to self-isolate but your employer tries to force you to work then you should refuse and state your reasons for doing so in the form of a written record. For example,  email or text them from your personal email or phone. You should explain that you are following the government advice set out by Public Health England to self-isolate.
  • If you are threatened with or actually dismissed because you have had to self-isolate and your health and safety concerns have been ignored by your employer, then you could potentially bring a claim for automatic unfair dismissal under the whistleblowing provisions and/or unfair dismissal including constructive dismissal. Contact us for further advice if it happens to you.
  • If you would like further information on Sick Pay then you can visit the ACAS website here ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) is an independent government body which was put in place to advise the public on their employment rights’.
  • If your employer is refusing to pay you sick pay, you should visit ACAS’ website or contact them on 0300 123 1100 for further guidance.
Corona Virus: Businesses
  • The government wants to ensure businesses are supported to deal with the temporary economic impacts of an outbreak of coronavirus.
  • Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for employees unable to work because of coronavirus. This refund will be for up to 2 weeks per employee.
Corona Virus : Employees and self-employed people
  • To make sure people in work can take the necessary time off to stay at home if they are suffering from coronavirus or to prevent its spread, changes have been made to Statutory Sick Pay and how Universal Credit supports self-employed claimants. This includes:
  1. people who cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of their illness – we intend to legislate so this measure applies retrospectively from 13 March 2020;
  2. Statutory Sick Pay will be payable to people who are staying at home on government advice, not just those who are infected, from 13 March 2020 after regulations were laid on 12 March 2020 – employers are urged to use their discretion about what evidence, if any, they ask for;
  3. if employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to coronavirus, they will be able to get it from the NHS 111 Online instead of having to get a fit note from their doctor – this is currently under development and will be made available soon;
  4. self-employed claimants on Universal Credit who are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus will not have a Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time while affected.
Self-employed invited to get ready to make their claims for coronavirus ( COVID-19) support - GOV.UK

I am pregnant and unable to work. What help is available?
  • If you are employed and need to take maternity leave to have your baby, you may be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) for 39 weeks. You will qualify if all of the following apply:
  1. You were employed on the 15th week before the due date.
  2. You were continuously employed by the same employer for the 26 weeks (six months) leading up to that week.
  3. You earned at least £113 per week gross (just under 16 hours at minimum wage).
  4. This is the statutory minimum. It may be that you are entitled to more under your contract, so make sure to check it or ask your employer.
  • If you do not satisfy the requirements listed above, you may instead be entitled to Maternity Allowance. This is usually paid by the state for 39 weeks, and you will be entitled if all of the following apply:
  1. You were employed (including for multiple employers) or self-employed for a total of 26 out of the 66 weeks before your due date (even if there are gaps).
  2. You earned at least £30 a week in at least 13 of those weeks.
  3. You are not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay.
  • Note that if you were self-employed and did not pay Class 2 National Insurance payments, then you will be paid Maternity Allowance at a much lower rate. Maternity Allowance is also available (at the lower rate, for 14 weeks only) if you do unpaid work for your self-employed spouse or civil partner.
  • If you cannot receive either of the above (or only at a low rate), you are likely to be entitled to Income Support from 11 weeks before your due date (or earlier if your pregnancy makes you incapable of working) until 15 weeks after birth. If you are a lone parent you will continue to be entitled while your child is young (see below). If you meet certain conditions, you may be directed to apply for Universal Credit instead (see below).
  • You can apply for a Sure Start Maternity Grant if you receive certain benefits (means-tested JSA or ESA, Income Support, Pension Credit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit with a disability element, or Universal Credit). The new baby must usually be your only child under 16 (unless it is a multiple birth), and you must apply within three months of the birth. You will need to get a health professional to provide a statement confirming the due date / date of birth.
Why Are Black Women at Risk for Premature Birth? – San Diego – Sharp Health News
What holiday pay am I entitled to?
  • From 1 April 2009, the statutory amount of paid holiday you are entitled to in each leave year is 5.6 weeks.
  1. If you work works five days a week, 5.6 weeks means 28 days’ holiday (5.6 weeks x 5 days per week).
  2. If you work more than five days a week, your statutory paid holiday is capped or limited to 28 days.
  3. If you work fewer than five days, your statutory amount of days is calculated on a pro-rata basis.
  4. If you start or leave your employment part way through a leave year your holiday entitlement will be calculated on a pro-rata basis.
  • If you get time off on Bank holidays and get paid for them then these count towards your entitlement – but check your employment contract. Your statutory entitlement to paid holiday is not in addition to any contractual entitlement. It is the minimum amount that you should have.
  • Remember to check your contract, it may give you contractual holiday over and above the statutory amount.
Am I entitled to the national minimum wage?
  • Yes – everyone is entitled to the minimum wage – if you have an issue you should call the Pay and Work Rights helpline on 0800 917 2368. They can help you work out if you are being paid enough. If you are not getting the correct money they can help you get what you are owed.
  • If your employer isn’t paying you enough they can be fined as well as having to pay you what they owe, backdated for up to six years.
Am I eligible for parental leave?
  • To qualify for parental leave, you must:
  1. have been employed continually by the same employer for one year when parental leave is taken; and
  2. have responsibility for a child under five (or under 18 if the child is disabled); and
  3. take leave for the purpose of caring for the child. Both parents can take unpaid parental leave. Each parent can take up to 13 weeks for each child (18 weeks if the child is disabled), and can take this leave at different times from one another. Most working parents are entitled to at least 13 weeks’ unpaid leave.
  • If you have one year’s continuous service you will be eligible for parental leave if:
  1. you are the parent (named on the birth certificate) of a child under five (or under 18 if the child is disabled) born on or after 15 December 1999; or
  2. a child under 18 has been placed for adoption with you on or after 15 December 1999, or
  3. you have acquired legally recognised parental responsibility for a child under five (or 18 if the child is disabled) born on or after 15 December 1999. If parental responsibility is acquired during the first five years of a child’s life, the parent can take parental leave from this.
Do I have rights to maternity leave?
  • Since 1 April 2007, pregnant employees are entitled to a total of 52 weeks’ maternity leave made up of 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave (OML) followed immediately by 26 weeks additional maternity leave (AML).
The only employees who don’t have this right are:
  1. self-employed women;
  2. policewomen (but not civilian employees and are members of the armed forces);
  3. share fisherwomen;
  4. women normally employed abroad (unless they have a work connection with the UK)
  • You can choose when your maternity leave starts provided that it is not earlier than the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) and that you are not absent for a pregnancy-related reason in the four weeks before the EWC
I am suffering discrimination because of my sex/race/disability in the workplace, can I get help?
  • There are laws against discrimination to protect employees. Discrimination can come from anywhere. It could be a colleague, department supervisor, your manager or your employer. If you think you are being treated less favourably than others, you should take action as quickly as possible.
  • The first thing to do is to have a word with other colleagues to see if they are receiving similar treatment or if they have noticed your less favourable treatment. Find out if anyone is willing to stand by you. If you can, try to speak personally to the person discriminating against you and ask them to stop or warn them that you will complain officially. You should only do this if you feel it is safe.
  • You may find it helpful to have a colleague or trade union representative with you when you do this. You should tell your manager what is happening. Put it in writing and keep a copy.
  • Your employer is required by law to protect you from discrimination. If it is your manager who is discriminating against you or harassing you, tell someone higher up in the organisation.
  • You should also collect evidence. This could include keeping a diary or record of the time, date and location of any incidents, what was said or done, who was involved, if there were any witnesses and evidence of any similar incidents against other colleagues. Record the names and jobs of those you think are treated more favourably than you, or details of the rule or policy that puts you at a disadvantage and why.
  • If things do not improve, talk to your union if you are a member or to your personnel department. They might be able to help you stop the discrimination.
  • If none of this helps, you may need to raise a written grievance with your employer. Although the law can help protect you, you should be aware that if you make a formal complaint, there is a risk of this making your life at work even more uncomfortable. If this doesn’t work, the final step could be to make a claim for sex discrimination to an Industrial Tribunal.
  • You may need to raise a written grievance with your employer first. There are strict time limits involved, so get advice early on. A claim to an employment tribunal must be made within three months (that is three months less one day) from the date of the discriminatory act that is being complained about.
  • You don’t need to have worked for your employer for any particular length of time before you can make a claim for sex discrimination. If you have been dismissed, you may also be able to make a claim for unfair dismissal. You will need to prove your case. This is why collecting evidence is so important. You can ask your employer to provide information through a questionnaire procedure. This can help to support your case.
  • There are strict time limits involved and you will need to get advice to help you do this. There is no upper limit to the amount of compensation you can be awarded by an employment tribunal in a sex discrimination case.
Can I ask for flexible working?
Can an agency charge me a fee for finding work?
  • An employment agency can not charge you a fee for finding or trying to find you a job. They can charge for non-work finding services such as C.V. writing but they can not make you use these services as a condition of finding you work.
  • Note there are different rules for entertainment/modelling agencies. Further information for agency workers can be found at
How do I check my redundancy pay?
What is the Minimum Wage
Can my employer make deductions from my wages?
  • If required by the employees contract or by law (eg National Insurance), deductions can be made without prior written agreement. However, employers should not make other deductions without a prior written agreement. Seek further advice relating to the retail trade and deductions to recover stock deficiencies/cash shortages.
What about bank holidays?
  • There is no statutory entitlement to paid leave for public holidays. You should refer to your contract of employment.
  • If it is not expressly stated in the contract, the right to paid leave may have built up through custom and practice.
  • Paid public holidays can count towards part of the statutory 5.6 weeks paid holiday under the Working Time Regulations 1999(as amended).
What if an employee starts after the beginning of the company’s leave year?
  • Holiday entitlement will be calculated from the first day of employment to the end of the leave year. So, if the leave year runs from April to March and you start in July, you will be entitled to three quarters of the full entitlement.
How is a part time worker’s holiday calculated?
  • On a pro-rata basis, so an employee who works 3 days per week would get 16.8 days paid holiday – their normal working week multiplied by 5.6.
What paid holiday am I entitled to?
  • Most workers who work a 5-day week must receive at least 28 days’ paid annual leave per year  - ie 5.6 weeks paid holiday.
  • You are also entitled to payment for untaken statutory leave entitlement on termination of employment. To work out your holiday entitlement try this tool