Last updated: 13 July 2020

Latest updates and useful links 

Advice for employees and self-employed (work & pay) 

You can find information about work and pay benefits for employees and self-employed people by visiting our main Coronavirus money and benefits page.

Advice for employees and self-employed people (benefits) 

To make sure people in work can take the necessary time off to stay at home if they are suffering from coronavirus or to prevent its spread, changes have been made to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and how Universal Credit (UC) supports self-employed claimants.

  • People who are unable to work due to coronavirus and are eligible for SSP will receive it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of their illness. The DWP intends to legislate so this measure applies retrospectively from 13 March 2020.
  • SSP will be payable to people who are staying at home on Government advice, not just those who are infected, this measure applies from 13 March. Employers are urged to use their discretion about what evidence, if any, they ask for.
  • If employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to coronavirus, they will be able to get it from NHS 111 online instead of having to get a Fit Note from their doctor. This is currently under development and will be made available soon.
  • People claiming Universal Credit who work who are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus, will need to report this in the usual way via their online journal. If this means they are working fewer hours, the amount of Universal Credit they receive will adjust as their earnings change.
  • Self-employed claimants on Universal Credit who are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus will not have a Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time while affected.

Advice for people making new claims for benefit 

  • Those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive an advance without physically attending a jobcentre.
  • The seven waiting days for Employment and Support Allowance for new claimants suffering from coronavirus or required to stay at home will not apply, so it will be payable from day one.

You can apply for Universal Credit online and view guidance on how to make a claim.

Advice for people already receiving benefits 

  • Claimants who need to claim ESA or Universal Credit because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a Fit Note.
  • Claimants will need to advise the DWP if they are staying at home or if they have been diagnosed with coronavirus to avoid being sanctioned. The DWP will then review their conditionality requirements to ensure they are reasonable.
  • Claimants who are staying at home will have their mandatory work search and work availability requirements removed to account for a period of sickness.
  • In April the DWP paused recovery of benefit overpayments for three months. From 6 July 2020 the DWP restarted recovery of benefit related overpayments and social fund loans. Anyone who is experiencing severe financial hardship can request deferral of repayments by contacting Debt Management on 0800 916 0647.
  • The DWP resumed third party deductions on 10 May 2020 for Universal Credit (UC) claimants who repay debts for rent, council tax or utility bills from their UC payments.
  • If you are paying back an overpayment of Housing Benefit, the recovery rate and your notifications will continue as normal. However, if you are experiencing financial difficulty you can request for deductions to be placed on hold for three months. Please email with your invoice/benefit number and details of your request. (Those who currently make repayments through a Bank Standing Order, Bank Giro Credit should contact their bank to cancel their arrangement.)

Changes to jobcentre appointments 

  • People receiving benefits do not have to attend jobcentre appointments for three months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020.
  • People will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended.
  • People can still make applications for benefits online if they are eligible.
  • Jobcentres remain open, and will continue to support people who are not able to use phones and online, including homeless people.

Face-to-face assessments 

The DWP temporarily suspended all face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits including Universal Credit from 16 March 2020. This temporary suspension, initially brought in for three months will remain in place following consideration of the latest public health guidance. This means anyone receiving disability benefits (PIP & ESA) will not be required to attend face-to-face assessments. This will also include new claims for PIP or ESA and health checks for Universal Credit. Find out more about changes to face-to-face assessments.

Help with Universal Credit claims 

Southampton Citizens Advice are able to provide telephone advice on 0300 330 2166. There is also a national Citizens Advice service which includes BSL video calls.

You can also see guidance on how to make a claim.