Guidance and support for employees affected by COVID-19
COVID-19 has turned the world as we knew it on its head. Between restricting our movements, stifling our businesses, and impacting our economy, these are unprecedented and uncertain times.
And with an endless newsreel detailing how the economy will suffer and businesses across all industries face a difficult few months, as employees of these businesses, you’re bound to feel anxious, worried, and concerned for what the future might hold.
We’re here to outline the financial support that may be available to you and offer some guidance on how best to proceed over the coming months.
Being put on furlough
While many of us won’t have known what ‘furlough’ meant a few months ago, it’s now a very common term. It’s been reported that 44% of companies plan to furlough at least half of their workforce over the next few months. For businesses severely impacted by the knock-on effects of COVID-19, furloughing staff helps to reduce expenses and protect operations long-term.
But this also means putting staff out of work. And, even temporarily, this can wreak havoc on an individual’s finances. Luckily, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been put in place to allow businesses to keep paying their furloughed staff.
Starting from 1st March 2020, and running for at least three months, this scheme allows your employer to claim 80% of your monthly wage from the government. There’s a maximum of £2,500 per month per employee and it’s at the individual discretion of your employer whether they make up the extra 20% of your wage.
As long as you’ve been on your organisation’s payroll since 28th February 2020, your employer is eligible to make a claim on your behalf. Also, if you were made redundant before this scheme was announced and have since been rehired, you’re still eligible.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
In line with the demands for self-isolation, the government has made changes to SSP regulations. As an employee, you’ll be eligible for SSP when self-isolating – even if you yourself are not sick or showing symptoms. You’ll also receive sick pay from day one of your leave, rather than the usual day four.
If you’re not eligible to receive sick pay – if, for example, you earn less than an average of £118 per week – you might be able to claim Universal Credit and/or contributory Employment and Support Allowance.
Given the widespread impacts of the virus, businesses have been told to maintain an understanding of the medical need to self-isolate when making decisions about sick pay. This means you’re likely to see more leniency from your employer and may not have to provide proof of illness.
There’s no doubt that this is a serious and worrying time. The expenses we have to pay – such as rent, bills, and outgoings – don’t stop because of the crisis.
With this in mind, it’s important you’re communicating with landlords, banks, or anyone else who you have ongoing commitments with. As we’re all affected by this crisis, people are listening and will be more willing to support you and offer flexible solutions. Between deferred repayment schemes and payment holidays, there are options out there to minimise the financial strain COVID-19 has on your life. All you need to do is be open to asking.
One silver lining to take from this crisis is that we’re all in it together. Everyone across the planet is navigating through these difficult waters. And, because of this, the government has stepped in to provide financial solutions. Take some time to look into your personal situation and plan what the next few months might look like.
If you’re a business owner, we have a blog full of advice here. And for self-employed people, we have another one here. If you still need more advice, take a look at the government website and see what you can find.
At Big Hand, we understand your anxieties and concerns. Whether you’re worried about your future employment or getting through the next few months financially, we’re here to support you. If you want advice or business guidance, call us on 0161 327 2911 today.