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Coronavirus - FAQs for those employing carers

This page is designed to answer questions those employing carers may have at this time.
If you would like more information about Fish Insurance's service, and how we are operating during the Coronavirus pandemic, please click here.

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

  • Q1.

    The employer’s household are all in self-isolation because of a suspected or confirmed case of Coronavirus. Does the Personal Assistant (PA) still have to come to work?

    A.

    This depends on if you still require the employee to work.

    - If you still require the employee to work because you require care, then yes, they should come into work and be paid as normal. In this situation, employees should take guidance from the NHS on what precautions to take to continue to work safely.

    - If you do not require care during this period (maybe because family members are self-isolating with you and can provide care) then you can put the PA on furlough leave and claim back 80% of their salary from the Government (up to a value of £2,500 per month). The employer can choose to top this value up to 100% of the employee’s usual salary if they wish. It’s important to note that if you pay your carer using Government funding (such as a Direct Payment) and your funding is still coming through, it would not be appropriate for you to make a claim under the Scheme even if you furlough your carer because you didn’t need them to work for a temporary period.

  • Q2.

    The employer’s household are all in self-isolation because of a suspected or confirmed case of Coronavirus and the employee chooses not to come to work. Am I still required to pay them?

    A.

    No. If the employee is required to work, but chooses not to for fear of catching Coronavirus, they are not entitled to pay or SSP.

  • Q3.

    My employee is claiming they caught Coronavirus at work. Would my insurance cover me?

    A.

    The Employer’s Liability section of your policy covers against your legal liability for accidents to, or illness of, employees sustained during their employment. It does not cover circumstances arising from the Covid-19 outbreak, for example an employee who alleges they became infected while caring for you. This is because an employee would only be able to claim compensation from you if you were found to be legally responsible for them catching Coronavirus, which is a highly unlikely scenario.

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

  • Q1.

    If a PA is off sick due to Coronavirus (whether it’s a confirmed case, or precautionary self-isolation) can I claim on my insurance for a replacement employee?

    A.

    No, the replacement employee section of the policy does not cover you in this case.

  • Q2.

    If a PA is off sick due to Coronavirus (whether it’s a confirmed case, or precautionary self-isolation) can I claim their SSP on my insurance?

    A.

    No, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is not covered under the policy. However, the Government will pay the first two weeks of SSP in this circumstance.

  • Q3.

    If a PA calls in sick as they themselves have Coronavirus symptoms, and will therefore be self-isolating for the next 7 days, do I still need to pay their wages?

    A.

    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.

  • Q4.

    If a PA calls in sick as someone else in their household has Coronavirus symptoms, and will therefore be self-isolating for the next 14 days, do I still need to pay their wages?

    A.

    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.

  • Q5.

    If a PA is classed as being in one of the ‘extremely vulnerable’ categories, and is therefore advised to ‘shield’ for 12 weeks, are they entitled to be paid?

    A.

    If your PA has received a letter or text from the Government or their GP stating that they are classed as ‘extremely vulnerable’, they would be entitled to SSP for the entire time that they are practising ‘shielding’.

The Carer or Personal Assistant has childcare needs

  • Q1.

    Is my Carer or PA entitled to paid time off for childcare because their child’s school has closed?

    A.

    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 below (taken from Gov UK website, 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.

  • Q2.

    Is my Carer or PA entitled to time off if their child displays symptoms of Coronavirus?

    A.

    Yes, 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 pay your staff during the COVID-19 crisis, if you need it. It’s called the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and it may be your best chance to avoid lay-offs or making your carers redundant. Read on to find out more about the Scheme.

  • Q1.

    What is the Job Retention Scheme?

    A.

    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.

  • Q2.

    My wage costs are provided by funding. How does that affect the Scheme?

    A.

    The 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.

  • Q3.

    Why would I need to furlough my employees?

    A.

    The 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.

  • Q4.

    Who decides on putting employees on furlough?

    A.

    You 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.

  • Q5.

    What if they need to self-isolate?

    A.

    Self-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.

  • Q6.

    Do I have to pay someone who is self-isolating?

    A.

    Someone 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.

  • Q7.

    If I need to furlough my employees, how do I do it?

    A.

    Putting 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.

  • Q8.

    What if my employee doesn’t want to be furloughed?

    A.

    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.

  • Q9.

    When does furlough end?

    A.

    The Scheme is intended to run for a maximum of three months. Claims can be backdated to 1 March 2020 so we expect the initial period to run until the end of May (this has now been extended to June). You don’t need to furlough employees for the whole period, as long as the period of furlough you use for each employee is at least three weeks long. You can stop using it at any time after this initial three-week period when you can provide work to your employees again.

  • Q10.

    How do I get the government grant?

    A.

    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

Government guidance for people receiving direct payments – click here

Government guidance for people receiving a personal budget/personal health budget – click here

Furlough and the Job Retention Scheme

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

 

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