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Coronavirus - FAQs for self-employed carers

This page is designed to answer questions those working as 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.

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

  • Q1.

    Your employer’s household are all in self-isolation because of a suspected or confirmed case of Coronavirus. Do you still have to come to work?

    A.

    This depends on if your employer still requires you to work.

    - If you’re still required to work because your employer requires care, then yes, you should go into work and be paid as normal. In this situation, you should take guidance from the NHS on what precautions to take to continue to work safely.

    - If your employer does not require care during this period (maybe because family members are self-isolating with them and can provide care) then your employer could put you on furlough leave and claim back 80% of your 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 your employer pays you using Government funding (such as a Direct Payment) and their funding is still coming through, it would not be appropriate for them to make a claim under the Scheme even if they furloughed you because they didn’t need you to work for a temporary period.

  • Q2.

    Your employer’s household are all in self-isolation because of a suspected or confirmed case of Coronavirus and you choose not to go to work. Is your employer obliged to pay you?

    A.

    No. If you are required to work, but choose not to for fear of catching Coronavirus, you are not entitled to pay or SSP.

  • Q3.

    My employer is claiming that I made them poorly. Would my insurance cover me?

    A.

    The Public Liability section of your policy covers your legal liability arising from an injury (including death) to the person you are caring for. It covers amounts you become legally liable to pay as damages. It does not cover circumstances arising from the Covid-19 outbreak, for example where your employer alleges they became ill due to contact with you while you were providing care. This is because an employer 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.

I am a carer and need to self-isolate

  • Q1.

    If I am off sick due to Coronavirus, can I claim for any loss of earnings on my insurance?

    A.

    No, you would be entitled to SSP from the first day of absence, but not entitled to claim anything from your insurance.

  • Q2.

    If I call in sick as I have Coronavirus symptoms, and will therefore be self-isolating for the next 7 days, do I still get paid?

    A.

    Employers are not required by law to pay full wages to you while you’re off sick (although they can if they choose to do so), but you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from the first day of absence.

  • Q3.

    If I call in sick as someone else in my household has Coronavirus symptoms, and will therefore be self-isolating for the next 14 days, do I still get paid?

    A.

    Employers are not required by law to pay full wages to you while you’re off sick (although they can if they choose to do so), but you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from the first day of absence.

  • Q4.

    If I am classed as being in one of the ‘extremely vulnerable’ categories, and have been advised to ‘shield’ for 12 weeks, will I still get paid?

    A.

    If you have received a letter or text from the Government or your GP stating that you are classed as ‘extremely vulnerable’, you would be entitled to SSP for the entire time that you are practicing ‘shielding’.

I am a carer and have childcare needs

  • Q1.

    As a carer, am I entitled to paid time off for childcare because my child’s school has closed?

    A.

    No. As PAs come under the Government’s definition of a key worker, you should still be able to send your 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.

    Am I entitled to time off if my child displays symptoms of Coronavirus?

    A.

    Yes, if you live in the same household with your child, you will need to self-isolate with them (and all other members of your household) for 14 days. Employers are not required by law to pay full wages to you (although they can if they choose to do so), but you would be 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.

  • 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 your employer needs to furlough you due to the COVID-19 crisis, the “no pay” element described above doesn’t apply and your employer will get a grant to cover 80% of your wages up to £2,500 per employee per month.

  • Q2.

    My employer’s 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 employer’s funding is still coming through, it would not be appropriate for them to make a claim under the Scheme even if they furloughed you because they didn’t need you to work for a temporary period. If your employer needs to speak to someone about any impact on their funding, they should contact their funding provider.

  • Q3.

    Why would my employer need to furlough me?

    A.

    The Scheme is there to provide assistance when, for a temporary period and a minimum of three weeks, your employer is unable to offer work to you because of the Coronavirus. This might be because your employer is self-isolating and has no need for care for the time being.

  • Q4.

    Who decides on putting employees such as myself on furlough?

    A.

    Your employer does. The key to furlough is whether your employer still needs you to provide care and for as long as this is the case, furlough is not needed.

  • Q5.

    What if I 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 still get paid if I am 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.

  • Q7.

    If my employer needs to furlough me, how do they do it?

    A.

    Putting you on furlough is likely to be a change to your employment terms and conditions so your employer would need to agree it with you if it would change your terms. This means speaking to you about it first and getting your consent. It’s important to do this because the Job Retention Scheme will only let your employer recover 80% of your pay, so it is likely that they will want to reduce your pay to this amount, otherwise they would have to make up your pay to 100%.

    It should be noted that although currently unclear, we anticipate your employer will not be able to make a claim under the Job Retention Scheme if they have continued to receive direct payments to cover staff costs.

    Once your employer has your agreement to furlough on reduced pay, they should confirm this in writing, setting out the date that furlough will begin. Employers need to keep someone on furlough for at least three weeks if they want to recover the 80% wages from the Scheme.

    Employers can only get the grant for PAYE workers.

  • Q8.

    What if I don’t want to be furloughed?

    A.

    Some employees may not be keen to see their pay drop to 80% during furlough, however, if the only alternative may be redundancy, this may make furlough seem a more attractive option. Furlough will keep your job open for you to come back to when your employer 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 does my employer get the government grant?

    A.

    They need to use a new online portal to tell HMRC who their furloughed workers are and what their earnings are. The money will then be paid into the employer’s 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.

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