If your employment contract mentions that you are to be given sick pay
How much you are paid when off sick depends on what your contract of employment says. If you have a written contract of employment, it may specify that you are entitled to certain sick pay allowances when you are unwell. Your employer may also have promised you orally that you would be given sick pay when you are ill: if they did so, then this is a part of your contract and the employer is bound by that. Most often this will specify that you are to be on full or half pay while sick for a certain period, but your contract may state something different to this.
If your contract doesn’t mention sick pay or you don’t have an employment contract
If your contract does not mention anything about sick pay (or you don’t have a written contract at all), and your employer never promised that they would give you sick pay, then you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). At the time of writing you are entitled to receive SSP if you have been ill for four days or more in a row (including non-working days). You are then entitled to £95.85 per week for up to eight weeks. For more information on SSP, see this page: LINK
If you are concerned that your employer is paying you less sick pay that you are entitled to then please get in touch with us.
Your employer has a duty to ensure a safe working environment for all workers. It also has a legal obligation to do a workplace risk assessment under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. There is an obligation to act on that risk assessment if risks are identified. This should mean that employers encourage working from home where possible and take measures within the workplace to keep everyone safe, such as enforcing social distancing and requiring the wearing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) where possible. If your employer is refusing to do a risk assessment or to act on it then get in touch with us. You can also make a report to the Health and Safety Executive if your employer is refusing to help you.
Some people will receive a letter from the government informing them that they are ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ and will not be expected to go to work. Others may be pregnant or disabled and this will put the employer at a specific duty to do an individual risk assessment for them.
Ultimately, if you reasonably believe your workplace is not safe and that it puts you at risk of serious and imminent danger, in certain circumstances you may have a right to leave work. Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 states that an employer cannot subject an employee to detriment if that employee takes steps to avoid a serious and imminent danger, including refusing to go to work. Section 100 of that Act prevents employers from dismissing you for these reasons. You might still be required to do your work from your home if you are able to do so. You may not be entitled to pay if you do not work because of concerns over safety.
Unfortunately, section 44 and section 100 protection only presently applies to employees. If you are not certain what your employment status is, please get in touch with us and we will be happy to help.
The shielding scheme has been paused, although the government has issued new guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable: Read more here.
This guidance does not apply to those who live with the clinically extremely vulnerable.
When shielding is paused, government advice is that the clinically extremely vulnerable person no longer needs to shield but should obey strict social distancing and that they should either work from home, or not work at all.
The government’s guidance is that you should work from home if at all possible. However, if an employer wants you to go back into work, they can ask you to return as long as it is safe (see above sections). As the advice still recommends that people who are clinically extremely vulnerable work from home if they can, it might still be worth asking your employer if working from home is possible – to help reduce the risk to the person you live with.
You may be able to ask your employer to furlough you if you cannot work because someone in your household is shielding. You may also be able to take time off for dependents, parental leave, or annual leave.
Your employer can ask you to return to work. Unfortunately, you do not have a right to be furloughed – your employer can refuse to furlough you. In addition, from 1 July 2020 businesses can bring furloughed employees back to work on a part-time basis. Workers are paid for whatever work they do and the government pays 80% of wages for those hours they don’t work. This is called “flexible furlough”. See the question below about ‘misusing furlough’
There are however certain things you can try to do to persuade your employer that you should be furloughed in respect of all of your hours.
If you were furloughed, , your employer should have put your furlough agreement in writing when you were originally furloughed. Your employer is required to stick to that agreement. It might say for example that you were furloughed for as long as you are unable to work, in which case the employer cannot go back on this agreement.
If you have been furloughed because you or someone else in your household is clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 and has been shielding, you could point out to your employer that a member of your household remains at risk, so the reason you were furloughed has not been removed.
If you have been furloughed because of care commitments, you should point out to your employer if the reason you were furloughed has not been removed.
Finally, if your employer refuses to keep you on furlough, you may be able to take annual leave, or some kind of special leave. You should check your employer’s policies on this.
If you believe you are at risk of redundancy, you are entitled to be consulted at the earliest opportunity – ie. when the employer realises that a redundancy is a real possibility.
Every employee at risk of redundancy should be informed – this is usually called an ‘at risk’ letter.
What consultation you are entitled to depends on if you are within a large group of people being made redundant or not. Every employee at risk of redundancy is entitled to be:
– Informed they are at risk of redundancy and why
– Consulted about ways to avoid redundancy, before a final decision is made
– Treated fairly in terms of being selected for redundancy
– Considered for alternative work in order to avoid redundancy – your employer should take reasonable steps to look for ‘suitable’ other roles for you – these should be similar work on similar terms and conditions. For example there might be vacancies within the business that you may be able to fill.
If 20 or more people are being made redundant in your workplace, the employer must comply with all of the above, as well as some additional steps. At least 30 days before the redundancies (or 45 if 100+ people are being made redundant), the employer must undertake a “collective redundancy process”.
In a collective redundancy situation, Employers must hold collective consultation in addition to individual consultation. That means they must facilitate an election of a ‘staff rep’ to represent the workforce collectively. If there is a recognised Trade Union then this will be the trade union rep. If not, they must arrange elections for one or more staff reps. They must hold collective consultation about ways of avoiding the dismissals; reducing the numbers of employees to be dismissed, and mitigating the consequences of the dismissals. Consultation must be “with a view to reaching agreement” (which means dialogue, not just one way information or “going through the motions”).
If you have been furloughed, employers can now ask you to return to work on a part-time basis under the “flexible furlough” scheme. Provided that the employer is being honest with HMRC about the number of hours you are working, this is not unlawful. If you have been furloughed on a full-time basis but also are expected to undertake work, then your employer may be committing furlough fraud. If this is the case, you should ask your union rep to help you report this to HMRC, who can bring criminal proceedings against your employer in certain cases.
If you think your employer is underpaying you what you are entitled to under furlough, you may have suffered an unlawful deduction of wages. If this has happened, speak to your union rep who can contact your employer and potentially help you bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal for this outstanding pay.