Public health emergencies like the coronavirus outbreak can move fast. Our jobs and workplaces are often the first things that change. Your health comes first. If you self-isolate or feel unwell, the world of work can seem very far away. But we all have bills to pay. For many of us, the biggest worry is what will happen to our pay.

Here are some things we think are good to know about your rights if you have to take time off work or your job situation changes.

Your salary

Many businesses continue to work as usual during the coronavirus outbreak, and their employees are being paid as usual.

Other businesses have had to change or temporarily stop working. The Government’s coronavirus job retention scheme is available to help them keep paying their workers.

Visit the Money Advice Service for more information about the scheme and what it means for you.

Statutory Sick Pay for employees

If you are unwell, you may qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from your employer. During the coronavirus outbreak, you may also qualify if you need to self-isolate due to contact with someone infected by the coronavirus.

You need to let your employer know you are self-isolating. due to coronavirus concerns, and you can receive sick pay from the first day. The statutory minimum entitlement is currently £94.25 per week, although your employer may choose to pay you more than that amount.

For the first seven days, you can self-certify. After that, you will give your employer a note. Your GP may give you a note if you have been unwell. If you are self-isolating or have coronavirus symptoms, you can ask the NHS for an isolation note.

Zero-hour contracts and seasonal work

If you have a zero-hour contract, or you do agency work, you are also entitled to SSP. To qualify you will need to have earned on average of at least £118 a week (before tax) during the previous eight weeks, and you will be paid SSP for the days that you were due to work.

If your employer refuses and you aren’t happy with the reasons they give, you can talk to Citizens Advice about your options. You can also tell them they need to fill in a government sick pay form explaining their reasons for refusing. They need to give you the completed form. You can then talk to HM Revenue and Customs to see if your employer is right or not.

Many seasonal workers have been impacted by the coronavirus, including people who would have been working in holiday parks or theme parks, and exam invigilators for schools and universities. If you are a seasonal worker, contact the employer to ask about any arrangements they might have put in place.

Self-employed people

Self-employed workers who suffer a loss of income and need to take time off due to the coronavirus may be able to get help from the contributory Employment and Support Allowance.

The Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will provide grants to self-employed people who qualify for support for a three-month period. HMRC will contact self-employed people about the scheme.

Universal Credit can also help self-employed people with businesses that have been running for more than 12 months. The amount is worked out by multiplying the national minimum wage by a number of hours that the self-employed worker agrees to work.

Citizens Advice can help self-employed people to claim Universal Credit.

Claiming benefits

If you already claim benefits such as a Personal Independent Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit, your payments should continue as normal during the coronavirus period.

You don’t need to take any action, and requirements to attend jobcentres in person are currently suspended. If you claim Universal Credit and think you have been affected by coronavirus, you should contact your work coach using your online journal.

If you want to make a new claim for benefits, you can do so as usual using these contact details.

You can get more information on benefits from the Government’s Understanding Universal Credit website.

Taking time off to look after someone

Schools are closed. And if you need to take time off work to look after your children, you can’t face disciplinary action or lose your job. You won’t need to make the time up later on.

This is called dependant leave.

But you aren’t automatically entitled to be paid if you take dependent leave, so you should check with your employer..

The same applies if you need time off work to look after someone else, like a partner or an elderly relative, due to an unexpected event.

If you want to take time off work because you have a vulnerable person in your household and are worried about passing the virus to them, you should talk to your employer as early as possible to discuss your options.

Find out more from ACAS.

The contents of this post do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only