With the UK under lockdown, many workers have lost their jobs, are working from home or have been furloughed. We are receiving a lot of enquiries from our clients relating to their employment rights.
If your employment has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and you are feeling confused, here is some useful information:
Can I work from home?
If you want to work from home you can probably discuss some arrangements with your employer and if you have a pre-existing health condition your employer will be required to consider working from home as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010.
As an employee working from home, you should expect your employer to pay you, as usual, to check on your health and wellbeing and to keep in contact.
Being furloughed works as a temporary layoff. Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, UK employers can get support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary.
Your wage during furlough
Furloughed employees can receive up to 80% of their usual salary – up to £2,500 a month – and the employer can top up the wages to 100% if they want. If your employer decides not to top up your wage, they should let you know.
If you are only paid 80% of your wage that might mean you are getting less than the minimum wage which is allowed if you are not working. If you have been asked to undertake training during furlough, you must be paid the minimum wage for those hours of training.
Can I ask to be put on furlough?
Employers are allowed to furlough employees that are temporarily unable to work because they either have childcare responsibilities, they are caring for an elderly or vulnerable person in their household, they have to stay home due to underlying health conditions or because someone in their household is in the high-risk group for coronavirus.
Taking or cancelling holidays depends on your employer but it is certainly something that you can discuss with your employer during the pandemic.
Taking holidays can help keep workers mentally and physically healthy, so if you want to use holidays you should talk about it with your employer and co-workers.
If you are a furloughed worker you can still request to take your holiday, furloughed workers must get their usual salary in full for any holiday taken.
Sick Pay & Financial support
If you are self-isolating per the government’s guidelines or staying at home because you are at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus, you might be eligible to Statutory Sick Pay for every day you are off work.
You may also be eligible for increased awards of benefits that you are already claiming. If you are not claiming benefits you can make a new claim for Universal Credit if you are on unpaid leave or only receiving Statutory Sick Pay.
For self-employed individuals whose business have been affected, you can apply for the Self-employment Income Support scheme or Universal Credit if you are not eligible for the Self-employment scheme and need some extra help.
Find out what other allowance you can apply for here.
Use an online benefits calculator to check your eligibility.
If you were made redundant after the 28th of February 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic you can ask your former employer to designate you as furloughed through the coronavirus job retention scheme.
Unfortunately, you can only be furloughed when both the employee and employer agree. Your employer cannot be forced to put you on furlough if they want to make you redundant.
However, if your employer made you redundant when they could have put you on furlough at no additional cost, you may have a good case to argue unfair dismissal. Employees that have worked for two years or more have the right to claim unfair dismissal.
Workers that are on casual or zero-hours or have less than two years’ service cannot claim for unfair dismissal.
We understand how difficult this time is for you, employees and employers, and we are here to help you with any concerns or enquiries you might have. Please contact us via email, telephone or by filling in our website contact form.