Work and benefits
We are in lockdown again with tough restrictions, including that, by law, you must work from home if you can do so. Many people have had their income reduced, because they've been made redundant, had their hours reduced or had to go onto benefits.
We've put together information about where to go for help, some answers to your key questions and general advice about working from home.
Key sources of information
Working Families has information for parents about their rights at work, including up-to-date information on Coronavirus rights relating to work, and questions and answers from parents about their rights at work. It also has a free helpline for parents & carers on employment rights and in-work benefits. The helpline is 0300 012 0312 and is open Monday - Friday 11am - 2pm.
One Parent Families Scotland has put together some of the questions they’re being asked on their helpline about what’s happening about work and benefits. You can also use its webchat to ask your own questions or phone the OPFS helpline 0808 801 0323 (weekdays 9.30am to 4pm).
Working from home
In Scotland from 5 Jan we must, by law, work from home if we can.
What if I have to work from home but I need to look after children?
Nurseries and schools in Scotland are closed for most pupils until at least the end of January and likely longer.
If you cannot work "due to caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus", including needing to provide childcare, you can ask to be put on furlough. Employers do not have to grant this request.
Employers don’t usually allow their staff to work from home and look after children at the same time, but hopefully your employer may be more sympathetic given the current emergency.
If you can:
- Find a quiet place in your home to work
- Stick to regular hours
- Organise childcare/work shifts with your partner (if you have one) so that you can both work
There’s good advice around about working from home.
If you need to self-isolate or have Coronavirus, you may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. The UK Government recently expanded Statutory Sick Pay. You can check whether you are entitled to Sick Pay here.
If you need to self-isolate
If you have been contacted by Test and Protect and asked to self-isolate because of Coronavirus (COVID-19), you may be eligible for the Self-Isolation Support Grant. You can apply at any time during the period you've been asked to self-isolate for.
If you are self isolating and need a sick note for your employer, you can download a form from the NHS.
Information for self-employed people and small businesses
Self-employed people and small businesses are finding that their work is being cancelled or that they can’t keep trading.
The Government has started a grant scheme which will cover some (but not all) self employed people; you can find more information about it here
GOV.UK’s Covid 19 hub has links to sick pay, business rates and difficulty paying tax.
The Federation of Small Businesses has Coronavirus advice and guidance for small businesses.
HMRC helpline can help and advise businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax because of Coronavirus: 0800 0159 559.
Social security (benefits)
Many people who were already claiming benefits are worried about what will happen to their benefits, while many more have had to move onto benefits.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has information about what’s happening with benefit claims. Citizens Advice also has information about what benefits you can get.
Most DWP face to face assessments are not being carried out. However, sanctions are still being applied. If sanctions are applied to your benefits, you should seek help from your local CAB or Welfare Rights office or one of the helplines listed on this page.
Social Security Scotland
The Scottish Government has temporarily changed eligibility for a number of Scottish benefits: pregnancy and baby payment; early learning payment; school age payment; young carer grant and the funeral support payment. For more information and to apply for these benefits go to Social Security Scotland website.
Needing extra help
Many families were living in poverty even before the Coronavirus pandemic, and now many more families have little or nothing to live on and bills and debts to pay. There’s is help for families and others out there.
Make sure you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to. You can do this through the Scottish Government’s Money Talk
The Scottish Welfare Fund helps those on low incomes in Scotland through Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants.
Aberlour’s Urgent Assistance Fund can provide cash grants to help families with children cope with the impact of the Coronavirus.
Lives in Lockdown
Parents have kindly shared their experience of Life in Lockdown with us. You can read 'Lives in lockdown; parents' accounts here.