On Friday 20 March, the Chancellor announced the setting up of a new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS). This scheme is intended to enable UK employers to access a grant to continue paying part of the salary of employees who may otherwise have been laid off or made redundant as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
The JRS will pay employers a grant worth 80% of an employee’s usual wage costs, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month for each employee, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage.
The JRS is a temporary scheme which will run for at least three months from 1 March 2020. The Chancellor has confirmed that he will extend the scheme for longer if necessary.
Following the announcement of the JRS, the Chancellor then announced the Coronavirus Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) on 26 March 2020. The SEISS is designed to assist self-employed individuals whose income has been adversely impacted by Coronavirus. Similar to the JRS, this is achieved by issuing a grant to self-employed people or partnerships of 80% of their profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
Those applying must meet eligibility criteria, which is broadly:
Key workers are individuals whose jobs are vital to public health and safety during the coronavirus lockdown. Because their work is vital, the Government wants to ensure that they are able to carry out their jobs with as few restrictions as possible – such as using childcare facilities and public transport.
The list includes:
All NHS staff, including administrative and cleaning workers. Frontline health and social care staff such as doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, plus support and specialist staff in the health and social care sector.
In addition it includes those working in supply chains including producers and distributors of medicines and personal protective equipment.
Nursery, teachers – including teaching assistants – and social workers.
Food chain workers, including those involved in production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery of goods.
Postal workers, those required to run the justice system, religious staff, and those responsible for managing the deceased, and journalists providing public service broadcasting.
Local and national government workers in admin roles “essential to the effective delivery” of the Covid-19 response or delivering essential public services, including payment of benefits.
Staff needed to keep oil, gas, electricity, water and sewerage operations running. Staff in the civil nuclear, chemical and telecommunications sectors. Those in postal services and those working to provide essential financial services.
Police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilian staff and armed forces personnel, fire and rescue staff, and workers responsible for border security, prisons and probation.
Those keeping air, water, road, and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating.
A full list if key workers can be found at:
The Government guidance is clear that wherever possible, businesses and workplaces should encourage their employees to work at home to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Where an employee or worker becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home and advised to follow the advice to stay at home. The NHS guidance stipulates that individuals need to self-isolate for 7 days.
You do not need to self-isolate if you just have a cough after 7 days. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.
Individuals living with someone who has symptoms need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day their symptoms started. This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear.
If more than 1 person at home has symptoms, self-isolate for 14 days from the day the first person started having symptoms.
If you get symptoms, self-isolate for 7 days from when your symptoms start, even if it means you’re self-isolating for longer than 14 days.
If you do not get symptoms, you can stop self-isolating after 14 days.
Where employees are self-isolating they must follow their workplace’s usual sickness reporting process. Employees can ‘self-certify’ for the first 7 days of sickness. This means following workplace procedure without needing to get a note from a doctor or NHS 111.
Those self-isolating due to coronavirus for more than 7 days can get an online self-isolation note using one of the following methods if required:
For employees or workers absent due to sickness, by law employers must pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) provided the eligibility criteria is met. This includes:
Agency, casual and zero-hours workers can get SSP if they meet the eligibility conditions.
Any entitlement to sick pay over and above SSP would usually have been notified in writing.
Please find relevant guidance from the UK government as well as the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) here: