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.
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.
The government's Coronavirus Jobs Retention (furlough) Scheme was due to close at the end of October, but has now been extended to the end of March 2021.
As part of the extension of the scheme, employers are able to rehire anyone made redundant after 23 September 2020 and put them back on furlough.
Employers can also 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.
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.
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.
Where homeworking is not possible, employers should follow Scottish Government guidance on safely returning to work.
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.
There is a government scheme which will allow some self-employed people to claim a taxable grant.
Claims for the first and second round of grants have now closed. The government have announced an extension to the scheme, meaning two further grants will be available, covering November 2020 to January 2021 and February 2021 to April 2021. You must have been eligible for the first and second grants (even if you did not claim them) to be eligible for the third and forth grants.
Scottish Government guidance says that you should carry on working from home if you can. If you are not able to work from home, you can return to a workplace from 1 August. 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.
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
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
You can call Age Scotland's helpline on 0800 12 44 222. The below organisations also have useful information and advice on their websites.