How the coronavirus will affect your work, shopping and leisure time | Consumer affairs


I feel good but I have been told to isolate myself – will I still be paid?

The employer is not required to pay, says Sarah Evans, employment expert and partner at JMW Solicitors, but in reality most decent employers pay their staff – especially in light of the Prime Minister’s comments on Wednesday, who stated that workers should be paid sick leave from the day they are on leave.

Evans says that in most cases people will make a deal with their employer to work from home and as such will be paid normally. “More and more, many employees can and will work from home.

However, the problem comes if you work in a store or warehouse that requires your presence.

The legal position is that your employer can fire you home and has no obligation to pay you. For a small business, having an unproductive staff member sitting at home doing nothing with their full pay will be a huge burden. “

This week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said guidelines had been sent to UK employers telling them that staff who are asked to self-isolate should be entitled to statutory sickness benefit (SSP). He said medical advice on self-isolation should be viewed as a “disease for employment purposes.” Mo

How much will I receive for statutory sickness benefits?

All employees who earn at least £ 118 per week are entitled to statutory sickness benefit, or whatever else your employment contract may provide for. Most employers allow a certain number of days per year at full pay. After that, employees are entitled to statutory sickness benefit of £ 94.25 per week, which will be paid for up to 28 weeks. Until now, it was paid from the fourth day of illness. A doctor’s note may not be necessary, as employees are able to self-certify with flu symptoms without seeing a doctor, Evans says. Emergency legislation is being passed to allow sick pay to start on the first day of leave instead of the fourth, so claimants should receive it for the entire period they are on leave.

Unions have warned that up to 2 million workers do not earn enough to be eligible for SSP and could lose out if the virus spreads in the workplace. The government has said up to 20% of the workforce could be on sick leave during the peak of an epidemic. Mo

If children are expelled from school or nursery, what are my rights? Photograph: Oksana Kuzmina / Alamy

My children were sent home from school to isolate themselves. Can I request time off and will I be paid?

Evans says employees could request emergency leave in such a situation. The employer should grant it, she said, but would have no obligation to pay the employee. In reality, most people would just work from home. Most employers would likely allow the person to take time off, which in most cases is always paid, says Martha McKinley, employment specialist at the law firm Stephensons, but they don’t have to. Mo

I’m self-employed – What am I getting?

Nothing, and you’re not entitled to SSP either, McKinley says. “One of the main drawbacks of self-employment is that in most cases you won’t get paid if you don’t show up for work. If the virus gets out of hand, those in the odd-job economy will be negatively affected and face a significant loss of wages. “

The unions have called on the government to take action to help the 5 million people in this boat but it has so far resisted. The CIPD, the professional human resources body, has called for the creation of a “kind of compensation or hardship fund” to help people who are not eligible for sick pay or paid leave.

Can I apply for benefits instead?

Yes, but be prepared for a long wait. The Ministry of Labor and Pensions confirmed that people prevented from working due to a risk to public health are eligible for universal credit. They may also be entitled to a contributory employment and support allowance, which helps cover the living costs of people who cannot work due to a health problem. Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears, so you’ll have to wait one calendar month from the date you submit your application before your first payment is made. This is called your “evaluation period”. You must then wait up to seven days for the payment to arrive in your bank account. Mo

Do I have to have my supermarket delivered? Are the delivery slots disappearing?

Delivery giant Ocado last week advised customers to place orders early, due to “unusually high demand.” He said: “More people than usual seem to be placing particularly large orders. As a result, the delivery slots are selling out faster than expected. “

Typically, buyers are advised to book a weekday delivery instead of a weekend delivery. “We’re exceptionally busy Friday through Saturday right now,” Ocado said. In reality, they don’t go away that quickly. When the Guardian tested the site this week, we found that the delivery slots in the next few days were full, but after that there were plenty of after three to four days dates available. computer

On the move: capitalizing on the coronavirus

a roll of toilet paper
Toilet paper rolls are available for hundreds of pounds each. Photograph: Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

Some sellers on Amazon and eBay are taking advantage of fears of the coronavirus, with prices for hand sanitizers at 10 times normal rates.

Amazon said earlier this week that it had removed “tens of thousands” of items, adding: “There is no room for price hikes on Amazon.” He said his staff are constantly checking the lists.

But a brief search of Amazon and eBay showed many examples of extraordinary asking prices.

For example, on eBay, a seller this week offered two small 50ml Carex Aloe Vera hand sanitizers, adding that they “kill the bacteria virus.” Usually they cost £ 1 each in boots. The seller’s price? £ 15.

On Amazon, another seller offered a 12-pack Carex Moisture Plus 250ml hand wash bottle. Each bottle had a special offer priced at £ 1.29. What was the seller asking for? £ 149.99.

Some of the foreign “deals” were on eBay in Australia, although they may have been ironic. We found a vendor offering what they described as a 12 pack of “virus free” Kleenex bathroom tissue for A $ 12,000 (£ 9,300), or A $ 1,000 per roll. There were no offers.

To be fair to Amazon, it maintains its own prices at regular rates. For example, Amazon Fresh sells 16 rolls of Andrex for £ 7. A price check on the CamelCamelCamel website shows that the price has been around this level for the past six months.

I pay £ 70 a month for my gym, but I’m afraid to share exercise equipment. Can I suspend or cancel my membership?

Man and dumbbells on gym
What if I want to close or suspend my gym membership? Photograph: Cultura RM / Alamy Stock Photo / Alamy

You will normally have to pay the full cost of your contract if you want to cancel a gym membership early, although there are some situations where you can cancel without paying, including if you have a serious illness. or if a change in circumstances means you can no longer afford it, says Citizens Advice.

However, many gyms allow you to temporarily freeze your membership – often for a small fee or not that low – so that you can choose not to go for a period of time.

PureGym allows its ‘Core’ members to apply a freeze for up to three months at a cost of £ 5.99 per month, while ‘Plus’ members can freeze at no additional cost for up to three months.

The Gym Group will allow you to freeze your membership for as long as you want for £ 5 per month.

London chain Gymbox will allow you to freeze for one to six months, but it will cost you £ 20 per month (“leniency may be applied” in some situations). Nuffield Health gyms allow people to freeze between one and 12 months, but only under certain circumstances such as pregnancy, serious illness / injury, and termination. RJ

This article was modified on March 12, 2020. In the section on self-employed workers, an earlier version stated that people on zero hour contracts did not receive statutory sickness benefit (SSP). In fact, they can get the SSP if they meet certain eligibility requirements. This reference has been deleted.

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