What are my employment rights in the light of the coronavirus pandemic?

Sick pay

If you need to self-isolate:

  • If you're following government guidance because you have coronavirus symptoms, you'll be considered unfit for work. You'll also be considered unfit for work if you're staying at home, or 'self-isolating', because you've been in contact with someone with coronavirus.
  • It's worth checking your contract - your employer might have its own sickness policy so you might get your usual pay when you're off sick
  • If you're not sick but have been told to self-isolate and can't work from home, you should still get your contractual sick pay on top of SSP
  • You can also check your rights to sick pay if you get coronavirus on the Acas website. Acas provides free advice to employees and employers
  • If you're unsure if you're eligible for statutory sick pay, you can check with Citizens Advice

If you are self-employed:

  • You are not eligible for statutory sick pay 
  • If you have to take time off work and you don't get paid while you're off, you might be entitled to claim benefits. If you're already claiming benefits, you might get more money
  • If you already get benefits like Tax Credits or Housing Benefit, tell the office paying you that you can't work because you're sick. You might be entitled to more money while you're off work
  • If you're not claiming any benefits you might be entitled to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit to top up your income.   Check if you can claim ESA. Check if you can claim Universal Credit.


Your rights if you want to work from home:

  • As of 16/3/2020 government advice is to avoid any unnecessary contact with other people. This is known as ‘social distancing’ which includes working from home, if you can.   If you can’t work from home, your employer should help you find ways to avoid unnecessary contact. That could be:


Can you be let go from your job because of coronavirus?

There could be situations where you are let go from your job because of a business going into administration or having to downsize, which would create a redundancy situation. Even if it's a genuine redundancy and you've received a redundancy payment, it may also be an unfair dismissal in some circumstances and you should get advice about it.

If you're let go because of something related to coronavirus, such as time off work, you need to get legal advice as soon as possible about whether this was fair or unfair, because you only have three months to take action after your employment ends.

  • Employees with over two years service have the right to claim unfair dismissal, and it will then be for a tribunal to decide whether it was reasonable to dismiss you
  • If you are a casual or zero hours worker and not an employee, or you are an employee with less than two years service, you can't claim unfair dismissal but you should get legal advice anyway

In either case, even if it was completely unreasonable to terminate your employment, and it means you can claim unfair dismissal, there's no legal mechanism for stopping an employer from sacking you.

You can get free confidential advice from Citizens Advice Cheshire West Owing to the Coronavirus outbreak we are closing our offices to face to face services.  We shall however provide advice through adviceline: 0344 5766111 Monday to Friday between 10am-12.30pm and 1pm - 4pm, and by email and webchat accessed through the Citizens Advice website.  Please click on this link for up to date information on our services.

Copyright Citizens Advice.   The information provided in this advice column was published on 16 March 2020.  For the most up-to-date advice, please visit our Citizens Advice public site.   

You can also read guidance on how the UK is affected by coronavirus on GOV.UK. This guidance from the government is updated every day.