Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for workers

Advice and guidance to help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus while working or how to get help if your job has been affected as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Keeping safe while working

Stay at home

Carefully follow the strict physical distancing measures put in place by your employer. This includes:

  • working from home where possible
  • using phone, email and teleconferencing to stay in touch

In the workplace

If you’re in the workplace, you should discuss your working arrangements with your employer. Stay two metres apart from colleagues and customers at all times. Stagger break times or working patterns to minimise your contact with others.

Make sure you wash your hands frequently and well, cover any cough or sneezing. If you’re unwell, self-isolate immediately.

Visiting other locations

If you do have to visit other locations including homes, keep this short, minimise all physical contact and sanitise any surfaces you touch before you leave. Use any protective equipment provided, where this is required.

You should not use public transport to get to work unless absolutely necessary and you should stay apart from other passengers.

If you’re not in work temporarily

If you’re not working at the moment because you’re in self-isolation; you have care responsibilities or your employer has suspended business, your wages are likely still to receive an income.

There are a range of supports to business to help them to pay wages and benefit supports to eligible individuals.

‘Furloughed’ workers

If you and your employer both agree, your employer might be able to keep you on the payroll if they’re unable to operate or if they've reduced or no work for you to do because of coronavirus (COVID-19). This is known as being ‘on furlough’.

Your employer could pay 80 per cent of your regular wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, up to a monthly cap of £2,500.

You’ll still be paid by your employer and pay taxes from your income. You may be able to do some work for your employer while on furlough. This is known as 'flexible furlough'.

If your contract allows, you may also take on other employment and this will not affect the grant that they can claim for you under the scheme.

You will need to be able to return to work for the employer that has placed you on furlough if they decide to stop furloughing you, and you must be able to do any training they require while on furlough.

Statutory family-related payments for furloughed workers

If you're entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay and Statutory Shared Parental Pay, you will not be disadvantaged if you have been furloughed.

Your statutory calculations will be based on your full pay and not the furlough rate.

If you’re off work sick

What you're entitled to be paid when you're off sick varies from job to job and there are also different sick pay schemes in operation. If you’re off sick, find out what your rights are for sick pay.

Changes have been made to Statutory Sick Pay if you are self-isolating because of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you’re unable to work for more than seven days because you’re self-isolating, you can get an isolation note through an online service. Find out how at:

If you’re not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), for example, if you’re self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £120 per week, can make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance:

Time off to look after dependants

You have the right to take time off work to look after a dependant. This is sometimes called 'compassionate leave'. Find out more at:

If you’ve lost your job

If you’ve lost your job, or have had your hours reduced as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19), advice and support is available:

Looking for work

Demand is high for labour in sectors like health, retail and agri-food. You can find information on what jobs are available, how to find a job, financial support and where to get careers advice at Jobs and Skills.

Online training available

If you’ve lost your job as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) and want to develop your skills to help you look for work, find out what online training is available.

Help and advice

The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) and Advice NI offer free, confidential and impartial advice on all employment rights issues for residents of Northern Ireland.

Useful links

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