Guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what to do if you’re employed and cannot work

Guidance for people who are employed and cannot work due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

If your employer has less or no work for you because of coronavirus

If your employer has less or no work for you because of coronavirus, they could get a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant to help them to carry on paying you. This is known as being put ‘on furlough’ or ‘on flexible furlough’, and means that you’ll get at least 80% of your normal pay.

You might also be able to get:

  • New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) if you’re under State Pension age, you usually work less than 16 hours a week and have made enough National Insurance contributions, usually over the last 2 to 3 years
  • Universal Credit if you or your partner are under State Pension age and you have £16,000 or less in savings – you might be able to get it at the same time as New Style JSA
  • Pension Credit if both you and your partner have reached State Pension age

If you’re off work because you have coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating

Tell your employer if you have coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating. You should work from home if you can and are well enough. If you cannot work from home, you might be able to get:

  • a one off payment if you’ve been told to self-isolate – there are different schemes in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from your employer
  • New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you cannot get SSP, you’re under State Pension age, and you have made enough National Insurance contributions, usually over the last 2 to 3 years – you could also get it if your child has symptoms or is self-isolating
  • Universal Credit if you or your partner are under State Pension age and you have £16,000 or less in savings – you might be able to get it at the same time as SSP or New Style ESA
  • Pension Credit if both you and your partner have reached State Pension age – you might be able to get it at the same time as SSP

If you have caring responsibilities because of coronavirus

If you have caring responsibilities because of coronavirus, you might not be able to work all or any of your usual hours. This might be because your child cannot go to school or childcare, or you’re caring for a vulnerable person at home because their usual care arrangements are not available.

Your employer could get a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant to help them to carry on paying you. This is known as being put ‘on furlough’ or ‘on flexible furlough’, and means that you’ll get at least 80% of your normal pay.

You might also be able to get:

  • Universal Credit if you or your partner are under State Pension age and you have £16,000 or less in savings
  • Pension Credit if both you and your partner have reached State Pension age
  • Carers Allowance if the person you care for is getting certain benefits – you might be able to get it at the same time as Universal Credit or Pension Credit
Published 8 April 2020
Last updated 26 July 2021 + show all updates
  1. Removed guidance on what you could claim if you’re off work because you’re shielding. Shielding in England, Scotland and Wales has stopped and the time limit for making a backdated claim has passed.

  2. Updated guidance to include that your employer can furlough you if you’re shielding or have caring responsibilities because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  3. Updated the guidance to clarify eligibility conditions for Universal Credit, New Style Jobseeker's Allowance and New Style Employment and Support Allowance; to add Pension Credit, and the Test and Trace Support Payment as other financial help that can be claimed.

  4. Published updated guidance on when you must stay at home and may be able to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  5. Added that interviews and assessments are by telephone. You should only go to a jobcentre if asked to do so.

  6. Added more information about who might be able to get New Style Employment and Support Allowance because of coronavirus.

  7. First published.