COVID-19 pay and job security concerns
With coronavirus a real threat to us all businesses have had to take drastic measure to help combat the spread of the virus. But what’s the impact on individuals concerned over pay and job security? We answer some of the most frequently asked questions our employment teams have been receiving during this unpredictable time.
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My employer is refusing to pay me, what are my rights?
If you’ve been self-isolating and qualify for statutory sick pay then you should receive this from the first day you’re ill up to 28 weeks. To qualify for statutory sick pay, you must earn at least £118 a week. Usually you cannot qualify for statutory sick pay unless you’re ill and unable to work but the Government has introduced new legislation which means that if you’re an employee and unable to work due to self-isolation you can make a claim.
If you’re not eligible for sick pay maybe because you’ve not met the earnings threshold or you’ve already claimed 28 weeks sick pay in a year, your employer must fill out an SSP1 form stating why.
If your employer refuses to pay where you are eligible then you should seek legal advice immediately.
Can I be forced to use my annual leave?
Employers do have the ability to request that employees use some or all of their annual leave and may do so in circumstance like these if businesses need to temporarily close their doors and are unable to operate home working.
An employer needs to give you twice the amount of notice as the length of time leave to be taken, for instance of two days’ notice would need to be given if they instructed you to take a day off.
If you’re on a zero-hours contract you’ll still accrue holidays, which means that you should be able to get paid for them if there’s a lack of temporary work.
What are my rights if I’m made redundant?
If your role ceases to exist then you may be facing an impending redundancy and there are a number of rights you should be made aware of. The responsibility is firmly with your employer to make sure that you’re treated fairly and receive everything you’re due, from looking into alternative employment options within the company to making sure you receive your full financial package.
Click here for our advice guide.
If you believe you’ve been selected for redundancy due to discrimination rather than for a fair and objection reason you may be able to challenge this decision.
If the whole workforce is being made redundant because of a site closure, selection isn't an issue. If however, only a certain percentage of the workforce is being made redundant, you've the right to question why you’ve been selected.
Your employer may use objective factors in their selection processes such as disciplinary
records or appraisal scores. They're not entitled to discriminate on the basis of age, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital/civil partnership status, gender, race, disability,
religious or protected beliefs or pregnancy/maternity under the Equality Act. You should also not be dismissed because you are a whistleblower, a member of trade union or you have raised specific health and safety concerns, amongst other more specific protections.
With regards to all of the mentioned protections, your rights start from day one of your employment. If however none of these apply to you, you are likely to have a claim for unfair dismissal only and two years of qualification are required in order to bring a claim.
If you’re about to be made redundant, you have a right to a 'consultation' with your employer. This provides the opportunity to hear the reasons behind your redundancy and to discuss possible alternative avenues such as re-training for another role or re-deployment.
If your employer hasn't offered you any consultation, you should take legal advice straight away as you may have a potential legal claim.
I’m being made redundant, how much notice period am I entitled to?
If your redundancy is confirmed then your employer must give you notice. The statutory minimum notice period is one week for every year you’ve worked for your employer, up to a maximum of 12 weeks. If you’ve been employed between one month and two years you should get at least a week. Your employment contract may specify that you’re to give more that the statutory minimum notice period, but it can’t specify less.
How much redundancy pay will I receive?
You’ll need to be a full-time or part-time employee and have worked for your company for at least two years to qualify for statutory redundancy pay. Your rate of statutory redundancy pay will depends on your age and the length of time you’ve worked for your employer, as follows:
- Under the age of 22 - half a week's pay for each full year of employment
- Between the ages of 22 to 40 - one week's pay for each full year of employment
- Over the age of 41 - 1.5 weeks' pay for each full year of employment
Weekly payments are capped at £525 with the maximum amount of statutory redundancy pay limited to £15,750, although this is set to rise on 6 April 2020 to £538 and £16,140 respectively.
Your employment contract may entitle you to receive more than this. You should also bear in mind that if your total redundancy package comes to less than £30,000, the whole amount can be paid to you tax-free.
My employer has asked me to take a pay cut, do I have to accept this?
Employers sometimes ask employees to take a pay cut to support the business in times of economic difficulty or poor business performance. A pay cut cannot be forced on you by your employer, you must accept it in order for it to be lawful. However, you may wish to consider this if the alternative outcome may be redundancy and we are able to advise you on this as it will depend on the facts.
I’m self-employed, are there any measures in place to protect me?
If you’re self-employed then you will not qualify for statutory sick pay. If you have to take time off work you may be entitled to other benefits, such as universal credit.
Free employment consultation
We would like to help any employee or employer who has been directly affected by the impact of COVID-19. Please call us and we can provide a 15 minute free telephone consultation. We can direct you to the most up to date information so that you can understand your legal rights. If you require more specific advice, we would be happy to help guide you through the process and address your concerns.
We are very experienced in helping employees and employers understand their employment rights. Not only can we advise you on your legal position, we will help you devise a practical strategy for resolving your employment issue during this testing period.
You can book an appointment by calling us on 0330 107 5059
PLEASE NOTE: this information was correct at the time of publication on 19 March 2020
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