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Employment during the pandemic

Employment during a pandemic

During these uncertain times, your job may be affected as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve compiled some information on what furlough is and how it may affect you, tips on how you can find temporary work and where you can find more information and support.

What is furlough?

The term furlough essentially means sending employees home when there is not enough work to do, with a guaranteed payment to them, until the company has sufficient work so they can bring the employee back. If this happens, the government has announced a Job Retention Scheme which will provide grants to companies to pay their employees 80% of their wages, capped at £2,500 a month providing they joined the company before 19 March 2020. It would be up to the employer if they want to top up the 80% to 100%. Workers on zero-hour contracts can also be furloughed. In all instances, if the employee does not agree to be furloughed, then the company could proceed with a redundancy process following the usual procedure.

Furlough doesn’t mean termination of contract; you are still employed by them but you cannot work for them during this period. You can however work for another employer.

Rules on annual leave laid out by the government have been relaxed. Previously, employers were handed penalty notices if their employees didn’t take their annual leave. The new rules mean up to 4 weeks of unused leave can be carried into the next 2 years. You will continue to accrue annual leave whilst on furlough.

Looking for work during the coronavirus pandemic

Although some businesses have been forced to close until further notice, there are still some who continue to operate by working from home or are considered essential roles.

For non-essential roles, your interview would likely be over the phone or video call. For essential roles such as supermarket assistants, the interview would be face-to-face.

Get in touch with our employment team for some interview tips.

Where can I find work?

In response to the virus, there is a huge recruitment drive for people to fill essential roles. Supermarkets would be looking for store assistants, delivery drivers and warehouse workers; you can find opportunities on individual company websites. The NHS are keen for retired nurses, doctors and healthcare assistants to return, as well as those interested in roles such as porters, cleaners, bed buddies, ward helpers and support workers. These roles are advertised on the NHS Jobs website. Other essential roles include food delivery drivers for companies like Uber Eats and Deliveroo to service those who are self-isolating.

I’m self-employed. Can I get support?

There is support for you if you’re self-employed. The government has recently introduced a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). Under this scheme, self-employed workers will be able to apply for taxable grants up to 80% of profits (capped at £2,500 a month) to combat loss of income due to the coronavirus pandemic. The government will look at your tax returns from the last 3 years to see if you’re eligible. In addition, you need:

  • To have filed a tax return for 2018/19
  • To have self-employed profits that are less than £50,000 per year and it must make up more than half of your total income

You don’t need to apply for this scheme. HMRC will contact you if they think you are eligible.

For more information

Citizens Advice have more information about the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).If you are not eligible for SEISS, the temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is open to self-employed people and offers access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million for up to six years. More information can be found on the GOV.UK website.

This story was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2020 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Michelle Jackson
Posted on: 18th June 2020

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