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Working and caring

Last updated: 21 September 2021 

What’s the latest guidance for working carers?

If you're juggling caring with paid work, you may be adjusting to very different circumstances and are perhaps additionally worried about the practical and financial effects of the coronavirus. 

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You can read more about the government's latest guidance for employees here.


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Has the Coronavirus Job Retention/Furlough Scheme been extended?

Yes, the scheme has been extended to the end of September 2021 with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. You can find out more here.


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What support is available if I lose my job during the pandemic or suffer a drop in income?

If you lose your job, there are a number of benefits you may become eligible for such as Universal Credit, Pension Credit or Carer's Allowance, depending on your circumstances. Perhaps a good place to start would be to request a benefits check with the guidance of our Helpline team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You could also try using the very useful Turn2Us online benefits check tool here: carersuk.org/benefits-calculator.

You can find out more about the finanical assistance the government can offer here. There are also many other organisations that can provide sound guidance and support to help guide you. We have listed some sources of help here if you are worried about your finances and debt. For more information on benefits, please visit: www.gov.uk/financial-help-disabled.


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Can I get support if I'm self-employed?

If you are self-employed and have been adversely affected by the coronavirus, you may be able to claim a grant through the 'Self-Employment Income Support Scheme'.

To find out if you're eligible for a grant, see this Gov.uk page for more details.


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If I'm contacted by the 'track and trace' system and need to stop working to 'self-isolate', can I get financial support?

You may be eligible for a one-off payment through a new government self-isolation grant scheme. See 'What is the self-isolation payment benefit?'


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Can I work if someone I live with has COVID-19 symptoms? 

As well as the person you live with, you must take immediate precautions and self-isolate if they (or you) develop COVID-19 symptoms. If you can work from home, you should speak to your employer about working from home.

If you cannot work from home, you should tell your employer that someone in your household has COVID-19 and that you must self-isolate. If your employer cannot pay you sick pay, you might be able to get Statutory Sick Pay from day one of self-isolation. If you are not eligible for SSP, you can apply for Universal Credit or potentially a self-isolation payment.


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Can I now go back to work safely rather than continue working from home?

In many areas of the UK, you are now permitted to leave home to work, as long as the workplace has been made 'Covid secure' in line with government guidance. You can find out about the rules in your area here and speak to your employer if you have any concerns about protecting someone who is vulnerable. Employers still have a legal responsibility to protect their employees and others from risks to their health and safety so they should be willing to put in place an arrangement that will be suitable.

Everyone should also take cautious hygiene measures, such as frequent hand washing or sanitisation of surfaces, to minimise any risk to yourself and others. Your employer should be able to explain to you the measures they have in place to keep you safe at work. Some employers may ask employees to get tested regularly to identify people who are asymptomatic, for example.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published guidance on protecting vulnerable workers, including advice for employers and employees on how to talk about reducing risks in the workplace.


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Can I still work from home?

People are only encouraged to consider returning to their original place of work if this can be done in a 'Covid secure' way and the guidance varies depending on which country you are based in. Your employer should be able to provide specific guidance, but also bear in mind that, as a carer, you may have the statutory right to request flexible working. Check with your employer how they can support you with this. You can also use this form to apply. For more guidance, see this webpage.

If you have any concerns, we recommend that you speak to your employer to discuss what health and safety policies and procedures are in place to protect you in keeping with government guidance. This useful tool may also help you decide what's best for you.

Innovate icon
Adviser tip
: "It is crucial to be clear on the outcomes you are hoping to achieve. You need to ask yourself what you are looking to change in your current working practices to provide that flexibility you need to balance work and caring tasks."


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What if I have to take time off?

If you have been advised to 'self-isolate', because you or someone you have been in contact with has COVID-19 symptoms, you must tell your employer as soon as possible. This does not need to be in writing.

Your workplace’s usual sick leave and pay entitlements will apply. The government has promised, as a minimum, that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be given from day one of self-isolation – see further details here. You should check your contract of employment to see if your employer offers contractual sick pay on top. 

By law, for the first seven days of sickness, you are not required to provide medical evidence to your employer. After seven days, it is at the discretion of your employer to decide what evidence, if any, they need from you. Due to the unusual nature of the situation, the government has strongly advised that employers use their discretion. 

You can self-certify your absence to prove your sickness by creating an isolation note here, which replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit/sick note’ after seven days of sickness absence. Workers who are not eligible for SSP may be eligible to apply for support through the new-style ESA and/or Universal Credit. You may also be eligible for a self-isolation payment – read more


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What are my rights?

As an employee, you also have a statutory right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off from work:

  • To see to an emergency or unforeseen matter involving your partner, child, parent, grandchild, or someone who relies on you for care.
  • There is no fixed amount of time you can take off.
  • The time off is unpaid unless your employer is willing to give paid time off as a contractual right. 
  • Also check your work policy on care leave. ACAS has further useful information on taking time off to look after someone else. 

See the article below for some tips about working and caring during the current challenging times:

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 Read the guide: "Working and caring – COVID-19"

 

If you are at risk of redundancy, you can find some useful information about your employment rights at https://workingfamilies.org.uk/articles/coronavirus-furlough/. You may also find our work and career pages of interest.


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What is the self-isolation payment benefit?

This benefit is a £500 (or £750 in Wales) one-off payment available to people earning under a certain amount who have had to self-isolate and stop working for a period of time because of the coronavirus.

It is available and administered by local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales and you may be able to apply if you are on certain benefits. Northern Ireland has a slightly different system where the amount of the award differs according to who is in the household. Unlike for the other nations, you do not have to receive certain benefits to be eligible.

For further information, see the relevant link below depending on where you live:

England       Scotland      Wales      Northern Ireland

You may also wish to see our A-Z money section for more details on getting financial support in general. To find out what support is available in your local area, you can find your local authority's contact details here or contact your trust if you live in Northern Ireland here.


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