Can I be furloughed or get sick pay if my area goes back into lockdown like Leicester?

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WHILE most of the UK is looking forward to pubs and restaurants reopening on Saturday, Leceister has gone back into lockdown.

All non-essential shops have been ordered to close again and businesses hoping to welcome back customers this weekend have been told to stay shut for another two weeks.

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Schools, which have recently welcomed back some pupils, will also have to close again from Thursday.

Rates of infection in Leicester are now three times that of the town with the next highest rate.

The shocking numbers mean that the city accounts for 10 per cent of all coronavirus cases in the UK.

Once again, many peoples’ jobs have been put at risk as companies struggling to make it through a period of no sales – and today, Boris Johnson warned that there will be more lockdowns to come.

And with the furlough scheme being wound down for workers and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for shielding employees being scrappedd from August, it’s got many worried about their finances.

Here, we take you through your employee rights if your local area goes into lockdown.

The Chancellor closed the furlough scheme to new employees on June 10 – only parents returning from maternity or paternity leave can be enrolled on it.

But if you’ve already been furloughed between March 1 and June 30 your employer can put you back on the system.

Under the scheme you’ll receive 80 per cent of your salary – up to £2,500 a month – from the government.

Your employer can choose to top this up to 100 per cent but they don’t have to.

But for those who haven’t already been put on the furlough scheme, your employer won’t be able to add you to it.

Employers were told to start paying SSP to workers who had been told to shield by the government from April 16.

Letters were sent to 2.2million Brits who suffered from pre-exisiting conditions, such as diabetes and asthma, that puts them at great risk if they contract the virus.

The weekly rate for SSP is £95.85 for up to 28 weeks.

But from August 1, shielding Brits have been told that they will be able to return to work  – meaning they will no longer be eligible for SSP on the basis that they’re shielding.

The Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed to The Sun that this will remain the case, even if your local area goes into lockdown.

If you were on the government’s shielding list and your work stays open during a local lockdown, you may be able to take some of your statutory holiday days to get you through this period.

It also means that you must be paid in full for this time.

The DWP has said people can still receive statutory sick pay if they’re self-isolating because of symptoms and the other usual criteria.

People will also still have their priority for supermarket delivery slots, can still access help with shopping, medication, phone calls and transport to medical appointments.

Employers are also able to claim a refund of up to two weeks of statutory sick pay if workers have to self-isolate.

If you’re told by NHS Test and Trace that you have been in contact with someone who has Covid-19 then you must stay at home for 14 days.

If you test positive for the virus, you’ll need to self-isolate for at least seven days from when your symptoms started – even if it means you’re self-isolating for longer than two weeks.

At the start of the pandemic lockdown, local councils were able to offer small businesses in their authorities a one-off grant of £10,000 to get them through lockdown.

But businesses can’t get it a second time if they’re forced to close down again due to another lockdown.

The Mayor of Leicester is calling on the government to offer more financial support for local areas that are affected by this.

Sir Peter Soulsby said today: “I’m very, very concerned obviously about the impact on the well-being of the city in general and the health of the people in the city, but also about the economy of the city.

“One of the things we’ve been stressing to the government over recent times is that if Leicester is to be locked down and its economy put in limbo for a little longer, we will need support that was given earlier in the pandemic, through the UK, restores here in Leicester.

If you’re struggling to pay bills, you maybe able to get help through Universal Credit.

Some charities are also offering struggling households one-off grants, such as Turn2Us.

You can also ask your bank for a three month mortgage holiday, or breathing space from your credit card or loan provider if you can’t make the repayments.

Another alternative to consider is applying for one of the 70,000 new jobs that have been created because of the impact of COVID-19.

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