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Coronavirus - Q & A for employees

The COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty for everyone around the world and has disrupted our working lives. Here we have set out some of the most common questions our employment solicitor is getting from people worried about their jobs.

How much sick pay will my employer pay me?

If you are off sick due to coronavirus or suspected coronavirus you are entitled to statutory sick pay from day one.  If you are having to self-isolate in accordance with the Government and/or medical advice, you are also entitled to statutory sick pay from day one.

If your company has an enhanced sick pay scheme, check the details to make sure whether it extends to employees who are self-isolating due to coronavirus.

What do I need to do when working from home?

It is essential discussions take place regularly with your employer about what is expected of you whilst working from home.  It may be that adjustments are made to your normal targets or flexibility with regards to when hours are worked.  As events are changing rapidly, it is imperative to keep reviewing your workload etc. with your employer, to ensure both employee and employer know what is expected of them.

What if I can’t work from home – what are my options?

The latest guidance states that “all those able to work from home” are urged “to do so, unless their work is essential”.  Given these recommendations every employer should try and put into place if possible, the opportunity for you to continuing working from home however, this isn’t always possible.  Your employer may consider:

  • Allowing you to continue to work from your normal workplace (if it stays open) with processes in place to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Providing alternative work that can be done at home
  • Allowing/requiring you to use your holiday entitlement
  • Offering a period of unpaid leave
  • Classing you as being ‘furloughed’ from work (see article on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme)

These are unprecedented times, but if your employer is asking you to take holiday or unpaid leave, check your contract and ring our employment specialist, Lisa Aitken for free initial advice on your circumstances.

I have a job offer and am due to join my new employer in the next month.  Where do I stand?

Unfortunately, if you haven’t accepted the job offer, there is no binding contract and the employer can withdraw the offer ahead of the start date. 

If you have accepted the offer, it is more difficult for the employer to withdraw but not impossible in these challenging times.  Delaying the start date is an option or they may terminate the contract before you have started work for them. 

Check your offer letter and contract to see what they can and can’t do.  If you’re unsure, call us for free initial advice.

My employer’s turnover has plummeted, and I am worried that I won’t get paid.  Could I be made redundant?

There are various options that an employer may take during the coronavirus.  The main ones are listed below:

  • Dismiss staff with less than two years’ service – you would not be entitled to redundancy pay and you are unlikely to be able to bring a Tribunal claim for unfair dismissal (although there are exceptions)
  • Redundancy – If you have over two years’ service employers will still need to follow their redundancy procedures and ensure it is carried out fairly
  • Class you as being ‘furloughed’ (see Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme article)
  • Agree a period of unpaid leave
  • Change contracts:  Your hours of work, pay or benefits may be changed to allow the business to survive and avoid widespread job losses.

With the Government’s announcement of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which aims to stop employers from making redundancies and instead send employees home with up to 80% of their salary, it is hoped that this initiative will help businesses survive and protect people’s jobs.

If you have any query relating to employment, please call Lisa Aitken on 07960 469988  or email her on for free initial advice if you are affected by issues relating to the coronavirus pandemic.  We are here to help and support you through these difficult times.


Last Updated: 25th March 2020


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