Coronavirus: Universal Credit and other benefits

Employment and benefits support

Frequently asked questions

Go straight to questions and answers on:

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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Jobcentre appointments

If you’re already receiving benefits

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

If we need to make an appointment with you, this will be on the phone. We will leave a message in your journal before we call you. You do not need to come into the jobcentre unless directed to do so, as we are providing help and support over the phone.

If you are an existing Universal Credit claimant 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 I still need to do jobsearch activity?

We will contact you to discuss what steps you are taking to look for work, and to agree a new Claimant Commitment. You do not need to call us.

In the meantime you can use the Find a job service to search and apply for jobs.

You still need to tell us if anything changes – use the ‘Report a change of circumstances’ link in your online account

What sort of jobsearch activity will I be expected to do?

We will contact you to discuss your Claimant Commitment. In the meantime, if you are able to look for work safely while following government guidance on coronavirus, you should:

  • update your CV
  • consider your opportunities for returning to work
  • search for jobs, for example on the government’s jobhelp website
  • read about commitments and looking for work in the coronavirus and Universal Credit guide, which you can find in your online account
  • make yourself available to start work.

You do not need to contact us.

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 such as the government’s jobhelp website.

You do not need to attend the jobcentre unless we ask you to do so. If you need to contact us the quickest way to do this is online or by phone.

If you need to attend a jobcentre, they are open and one of our colleagues will be able to assist you. You will be required to wear a face covering when entering a jobcentre, unless you are in an exempt category. Please also follow the latest government guidance on meeting with others safely and local restrictions

Will I still receive my payments?

You will receive your payments as normal.

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. 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 unless we ask you to. However, jobcentre staff will still meet vulnerable customers including those fleeing domestic abuse.

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.

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. However, your identity will need to be verified before you can receive your first Universal Credit payment.

Depending on your circumstances, you might need to take part in a telephone interview with a work coach. We will contact you if this is the case – you do not need to call us.

If you can’t attend your telephone interview please let us know as soon as possible using your online account so that it can be rearranged. If we ask you to attend a telephone interview, your Universal Credit claim won’t be able to proceed until that interview has taken place.

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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Work Capability Assessments

Why have face-to-face Work Capability Assessments been suspended?

In line with the latest public health advice across England, Scotland and Wales, we have suspended face-to-face Work Capability Assessments for the time being. This is to protect vulnerable people from unnecessary risk. We will keep this under review.

We are still processing health and disability claims, so you should still make your claim as normal.

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.

Does this mean Work Capability Assessments are no longer taking place?

No. If it is not possible to complete a health assessment using the evidence you provided when submitting your claim, we may invite you to have a Work Capability Assessment by telephone.

Which benefits does this affect?

This affects Work Capability Assessments in both Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Read more about Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB).

How long will this suspension last for?

We will be regularly reviewing the position in line with Public Health advice. When face-to-face Work Capability Assessments do resume, claimants will receive advance notice of any appointment they need to attend.

I need to claim health or disability benefits but am not currently receiving them. Does this mean I won’t be able to receive Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?

No. We continue to accept new claims to Universal Credit and ESA. You should not delay making a claim.

Due to unprecedented demand, we recommend that if possible you make your claim online. If you have to use the phone please try to avoid calling immediately after lines open in the morning.

I have applied for Universal Credit and/or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Will I have to attend a Work Capability Assessment?

All face-to-face Work Capability Assessments are currently suspended.

Wherever possible we will conduct a health assessment based on the evidence you provided when submitting your claim. If it is not possible to complete the assessment using that evidence, we may invite you to have a Work Capability Assessment by telephone.

If this is the case, you will receive a telephone call or a letter from the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (CHDA) that will provide you with further details and invite you to attend a telephone assessment. It may take some time for CHDA to contact you. You do not need to contact us.

I have been asked to make myself available for a telephone assessment. Why is this?

We have currently suspended all face-to-face Work Capability Assessments. This is to protect vulnerable people from unnecessary risk. Wherever possible we will conduct the assessment based on the evidence you provided when submitting your claim. If it is not possible to complete the assessment using that evidence, we may invite you to have a Work Capability Assessment by telephone.

This will help make sure that you are paid the right amount of benefit.

Can I have someone with me for the call?

As with face-to-face appointments, you can have someone with you at your telephone assessment to offer help and support. This would usually be the person who knows you best and understands you and your needs (for example, a relative, support worker or friend). They must be 16 years old or over. They may be able to speak on your behalf and can offer useful support. However, the assessment will focus on you and the answers you give.

If your support worker/friend cannot be with you in person because of the current government guidelines on social distancing, we can add them to the telephone call. We will ask you for their number and they will need to be ready to answer the phone at the time of your appointment.

What should I do if I need a language interpreter?

Please let the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (CHDA) know as soon as possible on 0800 2888777 (Universal Credit and ESA only). A relative or friend can be present at your telephone assessment to interpret for you, but they must be 16 years old or over.

How long will a telephone Work Capability Assessment last?

The Universal Credit/ESA telephone assessment should last between 20 minutes and 1 hour, but may take longer if necessary.

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

We are 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 evidence provided at the time of the claim is limited.

Where it is not possible to carry out a telephone assessment or make a recommendation, Universal Credit and ESA claimants will remain on their current award until we are able to conduct a face-to-face assessment or gather the evidence needed for a recommendation to be made.

I attended a Work Capability Assessment. When will I hear from you? 

Due to the current situation with coronavirus it may take us some time to contact you and let you know the outcome of your assessment. We will be in contact with you as soon as we can.

Will there be delays in rearranging my Work Capability Assessment?

We anticipate customers may experience a longer wait for their assessment during this period, as we manage unprecedented volumes of demand for benefits.

If, following an assessment, we decide that you should get extra benefit, we will pay you any money we owe you.

What happens if my benefit was due for review?

Your current award will continue, while we put in place alternative arrangements.

Is DWP’s Home Visiting service still running?

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

I have received an ESA50 or UC50 questionnaire. What do I need to do?

You need to complete and return the questionnaire by the deadline given in the letter sent with it, using the envelope provided.

The information you give in this questionnaire may mean a decision can be made about your claim without you needing to have a face-to-face or telephone assessment.

We understand that during the coronavirus outbreak some claimants have not been able to complete and return their ESA50/UC50 on time. If you are self-isolating you must complete and return the ESA50/UC50 questionnaire as soon as you are able to, after your self-isolation period has ended.

If you are unable to return your ESA50/UC50 form by the deadline because of rules around coronavirus, it is important that you complete the late return section of the questionnaire to let us know why. We may also contact you at a later date to ask why there was a delay returning it to us.

If you require support with completing the ESA50/UC50 you can contact the Health Assessment Advisory Service by telephone on 0800 288 8777 or by email at customer-relations@chdauk.co.uk

I can’t get medical evidence from my GP/hospital to support my Work Capability Assessment at this time. What can I do?

We understand that during the coronavirus outbreak, it can might be difficult to obtain further medical evidence from a healthcare provider or your GP. You are therefore encouraged to complete and return your questionnaires as fully as possible and send in any information you already hold. It might be that this is enough for us to be able to make a decision.

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Maternity support

What financial support is the government offering pregnant women?

You may be eligible for Maternity Allowance, or Statutory Maternity Pay from your employer, depending on your circumstances. The Sure Start Maternity Grant (SSMG) is a one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a child. To get SSMG you must have received health advice from a certified health professional and be claiming certain benefits or tax credits. Read more about eligibility for SSMG

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.

If you are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay you can apply for Universal Credit and/or apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance

I’m pregnant and self-isolating. Can I get sick pay?

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.

If you qualify for Statutory Sick Pay you should be paid this by your employer from day one of your self-isolation period until you:

  • are fit for work
  • take up furlough pay, or
  • your Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance payments begin.

If you are employed and you don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay, your employer must issue you with an SSP1 form which explains why. You can use this to support a claim for Universal Credit.

Any time off work due to self-isolation will be deemed as sick leave until you are fit for work, you take up furlough pay, or your Maternity Leave is due to start. At this point the usual rules will apply, and Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance replace Statutory Sick Pay for up to the maximum of 39 weeks. In these circumstances your Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance will not start early because coronavirus is not a pregnancy-related illness.

If I am off work due to a pregnancy-related illness close to my due date, will my Maternity Leave and Statutory Maternity Pay/Maternity Allowance automatically start early?

Yes. If you are in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay due to a pregnancy-related illness, into the period 4 weeks before your Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance is planned to start, it will start a month in advance. This is the usual rule and is unchanged.

If you are claiming Statutory Sick Pay because of coronavirus, your Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance will not start in advance as this does not count as a pregnancy-related illness.

My employer has told me I have to start my Maternity Leave/Pay early. Is that correct?

You will only need to start your Maternity Leave/Pay early if you are within 4 weeks of your Maternity Leave/Pay start date, and are receiving Statutory Sick Pay due to a pregnancy-related illness.

If you are claiming Statutory Sick Pay because of coronavirus, your Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance will not begin early as this does not count as a pregnancy-related illness.

If your employer tells you to start your Maternity Leave early instead of placing you on furlough, please remember that it is your choice when to start and end your maternity pay period (within the usual rules).

If my Statutory Maternity Pay/Maternity Allowance starts earlier than I planned, will it be extended at the end?

We currently have no plans to extend Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance for more than 39 weeks. You may be eligible for Universal Credit and/or Employment and Support Allowance if you are unable to work.

Is staying at home because of the government guidance classed as a pregnancy-related illness?

No.

How do I get my MATB1 certificate (proof of pregnancy) if I can’t visit my GP, clinic or midwife, and they can’t visit me?

You do not need to meet a health professional for a MATB1 certificate. Your midwife or doctor can issue your MATB1 and send it to you by post.

I’ve given my MATB1 certificate to my employer and I can’t get it back. What can I use to support my claim for Maternity Allowance?

You could ask your employer to send it to the Department for Work and Pension on your behalf, or you can use the following documents to support your claim for Maternity Allowance:

  • your baby’s birth certificate
  • a letter or statement on appropriately headed paper, signed and/or stamped by a doctor, midwife or a responsible officer of the hospital or home in which the birth took place
  • a certificate of stillbirth issued by a registrar
  • a certificate to confirm that a premature stillbirth was delivered

I’ve been placed on furlough. Will my Statutory Maternity Pay/Maternity Allowance/Maternity Leave be affected?

If your period of Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance begins on or after 25 April 2020, your entitlement to Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance will be based on full earnings rather than furlough pay. You will get what you would have received if you had not been placed on furlough.

If your period of Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance began before 25 April 2020, your entitlement may be affected. If being placed on furlough reduced your earnings, this may reduce the amount of Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance that you receive.

Your rights to Maternity Leave are not affected by you being placed on furlough.

If I return to work part-time can I continue to get Maternity Allowance and furlough pay?

You cannot get Maternity Allowance for days for which you receive normal pay or furlough pay.

If you return to work on the same working pattern as you did before being furloughed, Maternity Allowance ends in the usual way.

If you return to work on a different working pattern to the one you had before your Maternity Allowance pay period started, you may be able to continue to receive Maternity Allowance for the days you don’t work, or receive furlough pay, until the end of your Maternity Allowance pay period. You need to tell DWP about any change in your circumstances.

Will employers still be able to recover the cost of statutory payments from the government?

The normal rules still apply. Employers will be able to recover 92% of the cost of statutory pay from the government, or 103% if they are a small employer.

I’m self-employed and pregnant/have just had a baby. Can I get help from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme?

You can get help from Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) even if you take a maternity break, as long as you intend to carry on trading after your maternity break ends.

You can get both Maternity Allowance and help from SEISS at the same time, as long as you meet other conditions. Check if you can claim a grant through SEISS

How do I apply for a Sure Start Maternity Grant (SSMG) during the coronavirus outbreak?

You can start your application for the Sure Start Maternity Grant (SSMG) by printing an SSMG claim form

Once you have completed the form post it to ‘Freepost DWP SSMG’. You do not need a postcode or stamp.

Please do not take your completed form to a jobcentre as it may be closed.

How do I get my SSMG claim form signed by a health professional if I am self-isolating/shielding, or if I am unable to get an appointment at the surgery?

If you cannot see your doctor or midwife but you have a MATB1 certificate (you will get this from your doctor or midwife no more than 20 weeks before the due date), we will accept that instead. Please send it with your completed SSMG claim form.

If you do not have a MATB1, please return your completed claim form anyway and we will contact you by phone when we are processing your application.

I risk missing the SSMG claim deadline as I am self-isolating/shielding and cannot leave the house to post my form. What should I do?

We cannot process your application for a Sure Start Maternity Grant without a completed claim form. But we will still accept your application if we receive the form after the deadline.

Please make a note on the claim form that you were self-isolating/shielding due to the coronavirus emergency and post it back to us as soon as you can.

How can I get a copy of an SSMG claim form if I don’t have access to a printer?

Please call the Sure Start Maternity Grant helpline on 0800 169 0140 to request a claim form and we will post one to you.

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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) is supporting self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose business has been adversely affected by coronavirus

The scheme allows you to claim a taxable grant worth 70% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total. If you’re eligible and your business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020, you must make your claim for the grant on or before 19 October 2020. Read more about eligibility for SEISS

If you have not been contacted by HMRC and believe you may be eligible for SEISS, you can check if you can make a claim using the SEISS online service

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. If you currently receive tax credits from HMRC, please be aware that if you apply for Universal Credit your tax credits award will end immediately, even if you are not eligible to receive Universal Credit. Find out more about tax credits and claiming 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. You will be informed before the Minimum Income Floor is reinstated for you.

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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