This webpage provides information about coronavirus and claiming benefits

Employment and benefits support

Frequently asked questions

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Statutory Sick Pay

I can’t afford to stay at home, but I’m infected or someone in my household is. What help can I get?

Those who self-isolate because they are (or someone in their household is) displaying symptoms of coronavirus, and are unable to work as a result, may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. Other eligibility criteria apply.

People not eligible to receive sick pay may be able to apply for Universal Credit and/or apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance

For those on a low income and already claiming Universal Credit: it is designed to adjust depending on people’s earnings or other income. If claimants are self-isolating and doing fewer hours, they should let us know in the usual way via their online account

I’ve got to self-isolate because I’m told I came into contact with someone who has coronavirus. What help can I get?

Statutory Sick Pay is now available to those who are required to self-isolate because they have been notified that they have come into contact with someone who has coronavirus, and are unable to work as a result. Other eligibility criteria apply.

Does this apply to all workers in an isolated household, even if they are not ill?

Yes. If you’re self-isolating because someone in your household is displaying symptoms of coronavirus, and you’re unable to work as a result, you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. Other eligibility criteria apply.

The government suggests using Universal Credit if I don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay but that won’t provide me with money quickly enough. How will it work in practice?

Those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance upfront without physically attending a jobcentre.

Do I have to have been ill for a few days before I can get Statutory Sick Pay?

No. If you cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay you will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of your illness. This applies retrospectively from 13 March 2020.

The government has advised us not to use public transport and to work from home where possible – I can’t work from home and have to use public transport. Am I entitled to Statutory Sick Pay or benefits?

The government is asking people to follow the guidance where possible, including only making essential journeys.

You may be classed as a key worker, and if not your employer may be offering guidance about staying home.

If you are unable to work you can check if you’re eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance

Can I get Statutory Sick Pay and other benefits at the same time?

You may be able to get Universal Credit and Statutory Sick Pay at the same time. If you are receiving Statutory Sick Pay it may be a good idea to apply for Universal Credit as well, particularly if you pay rent or have children to support. If you get both, your Statutory Sick Pay will be taken into account when calculating your Universal Credit payment.

You cannot get Employment and Support Allowance at the same time as Statutory Sick Pay.

What do I need to tell my employer if I’m infected or someone in my household is?          

Talk to your employer about the importance of staying at home to reduce the risk of spreading infection at work. If you are well, you may be able to work from home.

Employers are urged to be understanding where individuals are unable to work and need to stay at home as a result of following government coronavirus advice.

Those who self-isolate because they are (or someone in their household is) displaying symptoms of coronavirus, and are unable to work as a result, may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. Other eligibility criteria apply.

Those who aren’t entitled to sick pay, including those who are self-employed, may be able to apply for Universal Credit and/or apply for Employment and Support Allowance

During an outbreak, it is important to reduce the risk of further spread of the infection.

Meeting the needs of those dependent on you for care will require understanding and support from employers, family members and friends.

I have a zero hours contract and/or work in the gig economy. Can I claim Statutory Sick Pay?

If you are a gig worker and/or on a zero hours contract, you may be entitled to sick pay. Check your eligibility for Statutory Sick Pay

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Suspending jobcentre appointments

If you’re already receiving benefits

Will I need to go into the jobcentre for any appointments?

No. People receiving benefits do not have to attend jobcentre appointments for 3 months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020.

You should not attend the jobcentre unless directed to do so for an exceptional purpose.

If you are an existing Universal Credit claimant you will be paid as normal, you do not need to contact us. Our online service is working as normal and everything you need should be available in your account.

Although staff are working on our Universal Credit telephone lines as normal, we are exceptionally busy. You do not need to call us unless you are not able to use your online account. It is important that our telephone lines are available for our most vulnerable customers, using your online account as much as possible will help protect this service.

Will the appointments still take place by phone or online?

DWP is currently working out the best way to support claimants during this time. You do not need to do anything right now – we will contact you to let you know what will happen next. You will not be penalised or sanctioned for not attending the jobcentre, but if you have an appointment that will be conducted online or by telephone you should attend it.

Will I still need to do jobsearch activity?

All requirements to attend appointments, undertake work preparation, undertake work search and be available for work have been temporarily suspended in response to the coronavirus outbreak. If you are able, you can continue to prepare for work by working on your CV and completing online training. If you are able to, and you can do it in a safe way, you should also continue looking for work as a number of industries require additional workers at this time. See Find a job to find out more.

What support can I get from my local jobcentre?

If you are able to look for work and it is safe to do so then you should continue to check Find a job and other online resources.

You should not attend the jobcentre unless directed to do so for an exceptional purpose.

Will I still receive my payments?

People will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended.

If you need to make a new claim

How can I make a new claim if I can’t come to the jobcentre?

People can still make applications for benefits online if they are eligible. DWP will keep taking new claims, and measures will be put in place to make sure that people get the financial support they are entitled to.

You should apply for Universal Credit online. You do not need to call DWP to arrange an appointment and you shouldn’t attend the jobcentre. We will know that you have applied and will contact you if we need any more information from you to process any payment you are due. We will put a note into your online account and follow up with a phone call – this may appear as a private number. Please check your online account and look out for calls from us.

We are working hard to ensure the online application reflects these changes – in the meantime please do not call us. If you’ve recently applied for Universal Credit, your claim starts the day you submit your application online. This date is not reliant on your identity being verified online or linked to the date of any further contact.

DWP will never text or email asking for personal information or bank details.

If you cannot use digital services at all, Universal Credit applications can still be made over the phone.

I tried to verify my identity online using GOV.UK Verify but it wasn’t working. What should I do?

If you’re a new customer and are having a problem verifying your identity online do not worry – your claim has been submitted. Your jobcentre will know you have applied online, they will call you if they need to confirm any information with you in order to progress your claim.

Our phone systems mean calls from us may display as 0800 numbers, or an unknown number. If you get a call from an unknown number following our message in your account please pick up, as it’s likely to be DWP. We will of course ensure that you know the call is genuine.

Please note, there are scams preying on people, so do not share information if you’re not sure the call is from DWP. If you are in any doubt, please ask the caller to post a specific form of words into your journal so you can be sure it’s us.

What about people who can’t use the Universal Credit online claim form?

Around 98% of people make their claim for Universal Credit online, but for people who struggle with computers, it is possible to make a claim over the phone.

Extra support is available including our Help to Claim service, delivered by Citizens Advice, which supports people with their application. Help to Claim in Scotland

I’ve been furloughed. Am I able to claim Universal Credit?

You may be able to claim Universal Credit if you have been furloughed and are on a low income.

Use a benefits calculator to find out what benefits you might be entitled to.

The earnings you receive whilst you are furloughed will be treated like any other earnings as part of your Universal Credit claim. Find out more about how earnings affect your payments

Your employer will not be negatively impacted as a result of you making a Universal Credit claim.

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Suspending face-to-face health assessments

Why are face-to-face health assessments being stopped?

We feel it is necessary in order to safeguard the health of individuals claiming these benefits, many of whom are likely to be at greater risk due to pre-existing health conditions.

This change does not affect or change any existing public health advice. The NHS guidelines on coronavirus include advice on who should stay at home.

What benefits does this affect?

This affects all face-to-face assessments for health and disability benefits. This includes Personal Independence Payment, the Industrial Injuries Scheme and Work Capability Assessments in both Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit.

When will the change come into effect?

This is in effect now.

How long will this suspension last for?

We expect the measure to be in place for the next 3 months but we will be regularly reviewing the position in line with Public Health advice.

I need to claim health or disability benefits but am not currently receiving them. Does this mean I won’t be able to receive these benefits?

No. We continue to accept new claims to all benefits. For existing claimants, benefits will remain in payment while alternative arrangements are put in place. Do not delay making a claim, even if you think you may be affected by coronavirus. Due to unprecedented demand, it is advisable to make a claim online and to avoid peak hours where possible.

How will claimants know that their appointment has been cancelled?

We will be making every effort to contact claimants to notify them that they are no longer required to attend their appointment. However, given how quickly this change has been brought in, it may not be possible to contact every affected claimant in advance. Where we are unable to contact claimants and a claimant arrives for their scheduled assessment, the individual will be able to choose whether to continue with their assessment face-to-face or not.

My face-to-face assessment has been cancelled – what happens now?

Claimants don’t need to take any action. We will be contacting all affected claimants in due course to explain next steps and alternative arrangements.

How will you assess benefit entitlement without face-to-face assessments?

As we already do, where possible we will look to make decisions using the available information. Where that’s not possible, we are working with Assessment Providers to put in place alternative arrangements and will update claimants as soon as possible. This could involve telephone assessments in addition to paper-based assessments.

What about people who can’t engage over the telephone?

We are very aware that for some claimants, particularly those with certain health conditions or disabilities, it may not be possible to carry out assessments over the phone. In addition, there may also be cases where the paper-based evidence is limited. We are therefore working urgently to identify the best approach in these circumstances and we will take all steps possible to ensure individuals can access the financial support they are entitled to.

Can you guarantee that people will still receive what they’re entitled to?

As always, we will be doing everything we can to ensure that claimants receive the correct level of support on whatever benefit they have claimed. For existing claimants, benefits will continue to be paid whilst alternative arrangements are put in place.

Will there be delays in rearranging my assessment?

There will be some inevitable delays while we put alternative arrangements in place, but we are working at pace with our Assessment Providers to minimise this as much as possible. Payments will be backdated from the date of decision in line with normal rules.

What happens to my benefit which was due for review?

We will continue to pay your benefit at the rate you are currently receiving while we put in place alternative arrangements.

What about DWP’s Home Visiting service which operates across the benefit system?

We are suspending DWP face-to-face home visits across the benefits, with the exception of those customers who are most vulnerable. They will only be visited if it is safe to do so.

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Increased payments

Which benefits have been increased?

The government has increased the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for one year. Both have increased by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This applies to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants.

This means that for a single Universal Credit claimant (aged 25 or over), the standard allowance has increased from £317.82 to £409.89 per month.

What’s being done for people who rent?

Local Housing Allowance rates have been increased to the 30th percentile of market rents. This applies to all private renters who are new Universal Credit claimants, or have an existing Universal Credit claim that includes a housing element, and to existing Housing Benefit claimants.

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NHS 111 online isolation note

What is an isolation note?

This new temporary system will enable people who are advised to self-isolate to obtain an isolation note via NHS 111 online or the NHS website. This can then be used as evidence for absence from work, to avoid patients visiting their GP unnecessarily. The isolation note is not required by DWP.

What is an isolation note used for?

It is for employees who need evidence to cover a period of absence due to coronavirus. Employees can self-certify for 7 days, but beyond that, if they have been advised to self-isolate or share a household with someone who is showing symptoms and self-isolating, they may be asked by their employer to provide evidence. The isolation note is evidence to be given to an employer.

When will the isolation note be available?

This service is available now.

Who can get an isolation note?

The service is for anyone in the UK who needs to provide evidence, for their employer, of being advised to self-isolate after self-certifying for 7 days, because they share a household with someone who is showing symptoms and self-isolating, or because they have symptoms of coronavirus.

You do not need to get an isolation note for the first 7 days of absence, instead you can self-certify for this period. Employers have been asked to use discretion when requesting evidence but if your employer does ask for evidence to support your absence after the self-certification period, then you can get an isolation note from NHS 111 Online and give a copy to your employer. There is no need to contact your GP for a fit note.

If you have been advised to self-isolate as a result of coronavirus, then you should first speak to your employer to explore options for working from home. If you can work from home during the period you have been advised to isolate for, then you do not need an isolation note.

How do I get an isolation note?

By visiting NHS 111 Online if you are displaying symptoms or by visiting NHS.UK if you are not displaying symptoms. The service is available to people who have been assessed and are advised that they need to self-isolate. The isolation note is emailed to the user or to someone else’s email address of their choice.

Can I complete the process on behalf of someone else?

Yes.

What about people who do not have access to the internet?

Patients are being urged to only call 111 if they cannot use the internet. However, they should in the first instance ask a friend or family member to complete it online for them. If this is not an option, patients can call 111 for a call handler to complete it on their behalf and send the isolation note to an email address supplied by the patient, if they need it.

What if I don’t have an email address?

At present it is sent via email only. A trusted third party such a friend or family member can receive the isolation note on your behalf.

How long do I have to wait to receive an isolation note?

The note is produced and emailed shortly after completion of the service.

What if employers do not accept this alternative as evidence?

We will work closely with employers to communicate this and have already advised the use of discretion.

What if I need to stay off work longer?

If you need further notes to cover a longer period of absence, a further assessment via NHS 111 online will be required.

Can I get more than one copy to show multiple employers?

The note is emailed as a secure link to a PDF which can be accessed, printed, downloaded or emailed multiple times.

How do I send it to my employer? How do they use/store/record it?

You can forward the email from NHS 111 Online to your employer. How they use it will depend on the employer’s HR policies. Your employer can treat this as evidence for absence relating to coronavirus beyond the 7-day self-certification.

Do I need to obtain an isolation note if I am claiming benefits from DWP?

No. The notification is aimed at employed people. If you have a current claim to benefits or wish to make a claim, Jobcentre Plus will advise you on the arrangements in place during the coronavirus outbreak. You will not need to obtain a fit note from your GP.

Can I use the isolation note for other illnesses or conditions?

No – this temporary service applies to coronavirus only.

Are you collecting any personal data resulting from the issue of these notes?

Personal data from the issue of these notes will be collected in line with NHS Digital’s Privacy Policy. The data is securely stored by NHS Digital in their hosting service in the UK. Some anonymous/aggregate data may be collected by NHS Digital and shared with Government Departments to illustrate how the service is performing and how many notes are being issued. Read the NHS Digital privacy policy

What about vulnerable groups?

At present this service supports people with symptoms of coronavirus, or people in households where someone has symptoms. We will keep this under review as guidance for vulnerable groups emerges.

I am self-employed. Will I need an isolation note to claim benefits?

No. If you need information about claiming benefits see the self-employment section.

Advice for employers

Can employers insist on a fit note?

It is important that local health services are not overburdened by requests for fit notes from those advised to self-isolate or who are displaying symptoms during the coronavirus outbreak.

It is important that individuals who have been advised to self-isolate are encouraged to do so in line with Public Health England guidance

We strongly suggest that employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to self-isolate due to suspected coronavirus in accordance with the latest public health advice being issued by the government.

Should employers still require evidence to support payments of Statutory Sick Pay or Occupational Sick Pay beyond the 7 day self-certification period, employees may use the isolation note.

Can this be used for other illnesses or health conditions?

No. The isolation note relates only to coronavirus.

Can my staff be asked to work from home during self-isolation when they have obtained a notification by NHS 111?

Yes. The notification only confirms that the employee has been advised to self-isolate due to suspected coronavirus. It is not a medical assessment of an employee’s fitness for work.

How can you tell if it’s a real isolation note?

The isolation note is created with a 16-digit unique reference number generated by NHS Digital. This can be used by employers if they need to check authenticity through a verification service which will be available to employers, in the weeks after the service goes live. This will allow retrospective checking of notes that have already been issued.

For more information on the isolation note see the NHS isolation note help and support

See also the section on frequently asked questions by employers

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Self-employment

My business is no longer providing me with an income because of coronavirus. What can I do?

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by coronavirus. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Read more about eligibility for SEISS

HMRC has now contacted customers believed to be eligible for SEISS, based on their existing information. If you have not been contacted by HMRC and believe you may be eligible for SEISS, you can check if you can make a SEISS claim

If your business has been affected by the changes introduced to deal with coronavirus, or you need financial help whilst waiting for SEISS, you may be able to apply for Universal Credit

Once you have made a Universal Credit claim you may be eligible for a repayable advance

New claimants will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment, but may need to take part in a telephone interview.

I’m self-employed. Can I get Statutory Sick Pay?

As a self-employed person you cannot currently claim statutory sick pay. You may be eligible for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance

Will I have to sell my business assets if I need to claim Universal Credit?

If you are not winding-up your business, you will not need to sell your business assets to apply for Universal Credit. They will not be taken into account when you make a Universal Credit claim, nor will they be considered when we work out how much Universal Credit you are to entitled to.

Business assets include things like machinery, premises and cash held in your business account.

I’m already on Universal Credit whilst I run my own business. What’s being done for me?

If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit, the Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) has been temporarily relaxed. This change applies to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak.

Will self-employed people get anything from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

Self-employed people won’t benefit from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme directly, but they could benefit from the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and the relaxation of the Minimum Income Floor (see above).

In addition, the Income Tax Self-Assessment payments due in July 2020 will be deferred until January 2021, benefitting millions of self-employed taxpayers.

The self-employed may also benefit from:

  • following discussions with industry, for those in difficulty due to coronavirus, mortgage lenders will offer mortgage holidays of 3 months
  • forbearance from lenders, where individuals are having difficulty paying back personal loans or credit

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Employers

How is the government supporting employers during the coronavirus outbreak?

The government has announced an extensive package of financial measures, including the Job Retention Scheme, a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium enterprises, and deferred VAT and Income Tax payments.

And if you have fewer than 250 employees, you will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for employees unable to work because of coronavirus. This refund will be for up to 2 weeks per employee.

Find out about other government support for businesses affected by coronavirus.

My business needs to recruit because of the outbreak. What can I do?

Businesses that find themselves needing to increase their workforce as a result of the outbreak, such as those in food logistics, preparation and retail, should post vacancies on Find a job. There’s also a range of advice available on DWP’s employerhelp website.

See the advice for employers about the NHS 111 online isolation note.

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