Coronavirus – FAQs for those employing carers

This page is designed to answer questions for those employing carers at this time. You can find out more information about Fish Insurance’s service, and how we are operating during the Coronavirus pandemic too.

Find out more

The employer (or someone in their household) is in self-isolation

The Carer or Personal Assistant (PA) is in self-isolation

The Carer or Personal Assistant has childcare needs

  • QIs my Carer or PA entitled to paid time off for childcare because their child’s school has closed?
    No. As PAs come under the Government’s definition of a key worker, they should still be able to send their children to school. See Government guidance here. Health and social care: This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector.
  • QIs my Carer or PA entitled to time off if their child displays symptoms of Coronavirus?
    AYes, if the PA lives in the same household with their child, they will need to self-isolate with them (and all other members of their household) for 14 days. Employers are not required by law to pay full wages to the employee (although they can if they choose to do so), but PAs are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from the first day of absence.

Furlough and the Job Retention Scheme

The UK Government is offering to help employers pay their staff during the COVID-19 crisis, if they need it. It’s called the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and it may be your employer’s best chance to avoid lay-offs or making you redundant. Read on to find out more about the Scheme.

  • QWhat is the Job Retention Scheme?
    The government has announced plans for a new scheme that will pay for most of an employee’s wages while they are on furlough. But what exactly is a ‘furloughed employee’? Normally, an employee on furlough takes a period of temporary leave and receives no pay. They stay on your books, and you can bring them back in when you need them. Under the proposed Job Retention Scheme, if you need to furlough employees due to the COVID-19 crisis, the “no pay” element described above doesn’t apply and you will get a grant to cover 80% of your employees’ wages up to £2,500 per employee per month.
  • QMy wage costs are provided by funding. How does that affect the Scheme?
    AThe Scheme is intended to help employers out if they can’t pay employees’ wages because of coronavirus. If your funding is still coming through, it would not be appropriate for you to make a claim under the Scheme even if you furloughed your employees because you didn’t need them to work for a temporary period. If you need to speak to someone about any impact on your funding, please contact your funding provider.
  • QWhy would I need to furlough my employees?
    AThe Scheme is there to provide assistance when, for a temporary period, you are unable to offer work to your employees because of the coronavirus. This might be because you are self-isolating and have no need for care for the time being.
  • QWho decides on putting employees on furlough?
    AYou do. The key to furlough is whether you still need your employees to provide care and for as long as this is the case, furlough is not needed. Your employees might ask you about it but you can explain to them that it is only for use if you cannot provide them with work.
  • QWhat if they need to self-isolate?
    ASelf-isolation is different to furlough. Self-isolation is dictated by a person’s personal situation. People have to self-isolate if they have symptoms of coronavirus, or if they live in the same house as someone who has symptoms. Furlough is dictated by whether a person’s employer can still provide them with work.
  • QDo I have to pay someone who is self-isolating?
    ASomeone who self-isolates must be paid statutory sick pay (SSP) if they meet the qualifying criteria which includes earning a minimum amount, on average, per week. SSP works slightly differently for people who have coronavirus, or are self-isolating because of it; it will be paid from day one of absence rather than day four. Payment during furlough would be different to this. Please note that SSP does not apply if someone chooses to self-isolate with no symptoms.
  • QIf I need to furlough my employees, how do I do it?
    APutting someone on furlough is likely to be a change to their employment terms and conditions so you would need to agree it with them if it would change their terms. This means speaking to them about it first and getting their consent. It’s important to do this because the Job Retention Scheme will only let you recover 80% of your employees’ pay so it is likely that you will want to reduce their pay to this amount, otherwise you would have to make up their pay to 100%. It should be noted that although currently unclear, we anticipate you will not be able to make a claim under the Job Retention Scheme if you have continued to receive direct payments for staff costs. Once you have got their agreement to furlough on reduced pay, you should confirm this in writing, setting out the date that furlough will begin. You need to keep someone on furlough for at least three weeks if you want to recover the 80% wages from the Scheme. You can only get the grant for PAYE workers.
  • QWhat if my employee doesn’t want to be furloughed?
    Some employees may not be keen to see their pay drop to 80% during furlough, however, once it is explained to them that the only alternative may be redundancy, this may make furlough seem a more attractive option. Furlough will keep their job open for them to come back to when you can provide work again.
  • QWhen does furlough end?
    The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021. Find out more about how the scheme is changing. Claims for furlough days in February 2021 must be made by 15 March 2021. You can no longer submit claims for claim periods ending on or before 31 October 2020.
  • QHow do I get the government grant?
    You need to use a new online portal to tell HMRC who are your furloughed workers and what their earnings are. The money will then be paid into your bank account. It is expected that the first payments will be made at the end of April. The online portal is due to open on Monday 20th April.

Other useful links

We’ve compiled a list of useful links below that could help to answer any further questions you may have.

If you or someone in your household has a suspected case of Coronavirus

World Health Organisation (WHO) Coronavirus Q&A – click here

World Health Organisation (WHO) advice on how to protect yourself and minimise the spread of Coronavirus – click here

NHS guidance on signs, symptoms, and what to do if you think you or someone in your household may have Coronavirus – click here

Government guidance for households with a suspected case of Coronavirus – click here

NHS self-isolation guidance for households with suspected cases of Coronavirus – click here

Government guidance on looking after your mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus pandemic – click here

Coronavirus support for vulnerable people

Government guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people – click here

Government guidance on ‘shielding’ for those determined to be ‘extremely vulnerable’ – click here

Coronavirus support for care workers
and those receiving care

Government guidance for those receiving or providing care in the home – click here

General Government guidance for both employers and workers regarding Coronavirus – click here

Furlough and the Job Retention Scheme

Government guidance regarding furlough and other support available to businesses and employers – click here