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, you might be able to get:

  • New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) if you’re under State Pension age, unemployed or are working less than 16 hours a week on average, and have made enough National Insurance contributions, usually over the last 2 to 3 years – your savings and partner’s income will not affect how much you get
  • 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

Looking for other work

Find out about:

Published 8 April 2020
Last updated 1 October 2021 + show all updates
  1. Removed references to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ('furlough') which ended on 30 September 2021.

  2. 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.

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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).

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

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

  8. First published.