What type of worker are you?: financial help during the coronavirus outbreak

The help available to you during the coronavirus outbreak depends on your employment status. Learn how to find out what your employment status is and what help is available to you if you’re on a zero hours contact or work in the gig economy if you’re sick, unable to work or self-isolating because of coronavirus.

Need to know

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The help you qualify for depends on your employment status. There are three types:

  • employee
  • worker
  • self employed

As a quick rule of thumb, when you get paid if the tax has already been taken off (through PAYE) then you’re an employee or a worker. And if you look after your own tax and submit a tax return each year then you’re self-employed.

If you’re an employee or a worker

You might be eligible for:

  • 80% of your salary up to £2,500 per month (known as being put on furlough) if you can’t work because of coronavirus through the job retention scheme.
  • Statutory Sick Pay or Employment and Support Allowance if you can’t work because you’re off sick.
  • Universal Credit to replace some of your lost income and help with rent and other bills.

If you’re self employed

You might be eligible for:

  • a grant (which you don’t have to pay back) of 80% your profits up to £2,500 per month, through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.
  • Universal Credit to replace some of your lost income and help with rent and other bills.
  • Employment and Support Allowance if you can’t work because you’re off sick (or Universal Credit if you don’t qualify).
  • If you run your own business, there a range of loans and grants from the government and financial service providers.
Find out more about the income support scheme, grants and loans for business owners and what benefits you might be able to claim if you’re self-employed.

Useful to know

If you’re on a zero hours contract- If you’re put on furlough and your monthly pay varies, the 80% is calculated using the higher of:

  • the amount you earned in the same month last year
  • an average of your monthly earnings from the last year

If you have more than one employer – You can’t be asked to do any work for the company that furloughed you. But you can be put on furlough by one employer and carry on working for another. If you’re put on furlough by more than one employer, they will each pay you 80% of your salary and the £2,500 monthly cap applies to each job.

If you’re an agency worker – If you work for an agency (or an umbrella company), your agency might be your employer and can put you on furlough, not the client. If you are put on furlough by your agency you can’t do any work for that agency, even if it’s for a totally different client.

If you’re already claiming Universal Credit - If you’re earning less because you’re on furlough or your income from self-employment has dropped, your Universal Credit payment might go up.

If you’re self-employed – The ‘minimum income floor’ for Universal Credit has been temporarily abolished. (This assumed you earned a certain amount, even if you didn’t.) The amount of Universal Credit you’re entitled to now is based on your actual earnings.

Action to take

  • Find out whether you’re classed as an employee, a worker or self-employed to work out which of the help you might qualify for. See the Citizens Advice website if you’re not sure about your employment status.
  • Check whether there are any benefits you might qualify for and how much you might get using the Policy In Practice benefits calculatoropens in new window.
  • There is a range of assistance available to help you with housing costs, bills, loans and credit cards.
Find out what’s available to help you with your housing costs.
Learn what assistance there is to help you with household bills.
Discover what help you can get with loans, credit cards and other borrowing.

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