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Coronavirus and Employment

Some temporary changes have been made to support for employers and self-employed people because of Coronavirus

As an older worker you may have found that your work is affected by Coronavirus; your employer’s business may temporarily closed, your self-employment may have stopped or you may be concerned about safety at work.

Some temporary changes have been made to support for employers and self-employed people because of Coronavirus.

To help you understand these changes we've put together questions and answers that our helpline has been asked.


Age Scotland's Helpline

We're here for you

The Age Scotland helpline is a free, confidential phone service for older people, their carers and families in Scotland. Our team provide information, friendship and advice. Our helpline is free to call and available Monday - Friday 9-5pm. Call us today on 0800 12 44 222.


Employment Questions and Answers

What will happen if my employer doesn’t have any work for me for just now?

The government's Coronavirus Jobs Retention (furlough) Scheme has now been extended to 30 September 2021. 

If you are an employee, you can't make a claim yourself, but you can check if your employer can use the scheme here

Under the scheme, your employer can apply for a grant of 80% of your wages for the hours you are furloughed until the end of June 2021. The grant reduces to 70% in July with your employer contributing 10%, then 60% in August and September with your employer contributing 20%. 

Employers can choose to furlough employees part time, with the employee working some of the time, or they can furlough them full time.

The Job Support Scheme, that was set to replace the Job Retention Scheme from 1 November 2020, has been postponed. 

More information about the extended furlough scheme can be found by clicking here. 

 

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Should I be working from home?

Scottish Government guidance says that if a worker can perform their work from home, they should continue to do so, and organisations should make every reasonable effort to make this possible. 

You can read the Scottish Government guidance for homeworking here.

If your council area is moved into Coronavirus Protection Level 4, and you were previously told to shield, you should receive a letter from the government's Chief Medical Officer. It will advise you that you should work from home if possible, however, if your job cannot be done at home, it is your employer's responsibility to make your workplace and duties safe for you. You will be responsible for following any safe working rules that your employer puts in place.

If your workplace and duties cannot be made coronavirus-safe, you can use the letter you receive as evidence that you cannot go to work as long as your area is in Level 4. You do not need to get a separate fit note from your GP.

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What should my employer do if I can’t work from home?

Where homeworking is not possible, employers should follow Scottish Government guidance on safely returning to work.

You can read the Scottish Government guidance on returning to work safely here. 

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Which businesses have to be closed just now?

The Scottish Government have announced that each area of Scotland will be placed into one of five ‘levels’, based on the risk of infection in that area. 

The rules depend upon which level your council area is in. 

You can find out which level your council area is currently in, and what the rules are for that level, by clicking here. 

 

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What if I am self employed and can’t work or have less income just now?

The UK Government's Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) can provide grants to many self employed individuals and partnerships who have lost income due to coronavirus.

The grants are based on your average trading profits. The HMRC will write to you if you are eligible, to tell you when you can submit your claim.

Full details of the grants and how to claim them can be found by clicking here.

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I am worried about going to work

Scottish Government guidance says that if you are able to work from home, you should do so. 

If you are not able to work from home, you should follow physical distancing rules carefully at work. If you are not able to do so, your employer must have put other safety measures in place to protect you. 

If the kind of job you do means it is difficult for you to return to work, some employers may agree you can take leave instead. Talk to your employer to agree the best option if you are not able to return to your workplace. 

If your council area is placed into Coronavirus Protection Level 4, and you were previously told to shield for 12 weeks, you should receive a letter from the government’s Chief Medical Officer with advice about returning to work. It will tell you that you do not automatically need to stay off work, however, if your employer has done all they can and you still can’t return safely, you can use the letter as evidence that you cannot go to work.

If you were not previously told to shield and your area is not in Level 4, but you feel you cannot return to work safely, you should discuss your fitness for work with your GP or specialist care provider.

 

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How can I stay safe at work?

If you cannot work from home, your employer must take steps to keep you safe at work. They could let you travel when its quieter, support you to have less face to face contact with the public and make sure people stay 2 metres apart at work.

ACAS guidance to employers says they should

  • make sure everyone is social distancing if they come into the workplace
  • be especially careful and take extra steps for vulnerable groups, including those who are pregnant, aged 70 or over, or who have a long-term health condition
  • hold meetings as remote calls and avoid travel as much as possible
  • make sure managers know how to spot symptoms of coronavirus and are clear on any relevant processes, for example sickness reporting and sick pay, and procedures in case someone in the workplace shows symptoms of the virus
  • make sure there are clean places to wash hands with hot water and soap, and encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly
  • provide hand sanitiser and tissues for staff, and encourage them to use them
  • make sure everyone's contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
  • keep everyone updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace
  • keep up to date with the latest government advice

The full guidance can be found here 

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What if I have a job where there can’t be social distancing?

If you have a job where you need to provide personal care in a care setting and cannot do your work without touching someone, there is from guidance from Health Protection Scotland about what you and your employer can do to keep you and the people you care for safe. Read information by Health Protection Scotland here

There is also NHS guidance for health and care staff. Read this information here 

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Where can I get more information?

You can call Age Scotland's helpline on 0800 12 44 222. The below organisations also have useful information and advice on their websites.

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