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Support for people who are self-isolating.

Part of:
First published:
30 June 2020
Last updated:

Overview

If you're employed or self-employed, there is a range of support available to you if you're self-isolating because:

  • you (or a member of your household) is displaying symptoms or have tested positive or
  • if you have been asked to self-isolate as part of the contact tracing process

Notifying your employer

If you’re self-isolating and unable to work, you should notify your employer within the deadline set in your sickness absence policy.

The NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect service will provide you with written confirmation that you must self-isolate which you should share with your employer.

The responsibility of your employer

Employers should allow or enable a person to self-isolate if they have been notified by the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect service to self-isolate because they have tested positive for COVID-19. Your employer should continue to communicate with you in self-isolation and provide you with support. This includes allowing you to work from home if you remain well and if it is practical to do so. This might include finding alternative work that can be done at home during the self-isolation period. In no circumstances should you be permitted to return to work during the self-isolation period. Employers are under a duty to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus at premises where work is carried out. One of the reasonable measures is to allow and enable an employee to self-isolate if they have tested positive or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive. Therefore employers may be liable for an offence if they do not comply with this measure. Employers can be served with a closure notice. If employers breach that notice, they will incur penalties ranging from £2,000 to £10,000.

It’s recommended that your employer does not record the need for you to self-isolate against your sickness record.

Financial benefits and support for workers and the self-employed

If your income or busines is affected by coronavirus, there is a range of support available.

Self-isolation payment scheme

People on low incomes can apply to receive a £500 payment if they have tested positive for coronavirus or they are asked to self-isolate by the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect service because they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

The payment is available to people on a low income who are unable to work from home and would lose income as a result of self-isolating. To be eligible, people must be self-isolating and in receipt of Universal Credit or another specified benefit.

Read Self-isolation support scheme for more information.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

If you cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), you will get it from day one of your illness (rather than from the fourth day of your illness). This applies retrospectively from 13 March 2020.

You may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay if you must self-isolate because:

  • you are (or someone in your household is) displaying symptoms of coronavirus, and you’re unable to work as a result
  • you’ve been notified that you have come into contact with someone who has coronavirus, and you’re unable to work as a result

However if you’re employed and your employer already provides their own sick pay scheme, they will be encouraged to use this rather than SSP. You should review the basic eligibility conditions for SSP and the frequently asked questions on SSP and refer to your employer for further advice.

You may also be able to get Universal Credit and Statutory Sick Pay at the same time. Universal Credit is a monthly payment to help with your living costs. If you are receiving Statutory Sick Pay it may be a good idea to apply for Universal Credit too, particularly if you pay rent or have children to support. If you already receive Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit you should seek advice before making a claim for Universal Credit. You can get advice from Citizens Advice. If you get both, your Statutory Sick Pay will be taken into account when calculating your Universal Credit payment.

If you can’t work from home whilst you are self-isolating, you may also be entitled to an Employment Support Allowance (ESA). You can apply for an ESA if you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work. You can apply if, you’re employed, self-employed or unemployed.

If you’re self-employed and must self-isolate, if it’s possible for you to amend your working practices and work from home, then you should do so. If your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus, you may be eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Other sources of support

If you have further questions or need help with another issue, contact the Citizens Advice Advicelink Cymru service. 

Speak to a trained adviser on: 03444 77 20 20

Advicelink is available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. It is usually busiest at the beginning and end of the day. It is not available on public holidays.

Advicelink Cymru is a new service in Wales helping people access the right advice when they need it. The service targets those most in need with accessible, quality-assured and impartial advice. The service is delivered by the largest network of advice partners in Wales who have expertise in engaging with specific groups and communities across Wales.