Ask Alys: Will I be paid?

Covid-19: UniteLive answers some key questions

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Q: Will I be paid if my workplace closes?


Now the government has advised people not to leave home for work unless they absolutely have to, we reply to the question of what happens to your salary? Answers are provided by Unite solicitor, Alys Cunningham.


A: Unless there is a clause in the contract of employment which allows the employer to withhold pay if there is no work, the employer will be acting in breach of contract if they temporarily close the workplace and do not pay the employee. This is known as lay off. Home working is not lay off and full pay should be maintained where home working is agreed.


If you are laid off there is a statutory guaranteed payment for one week and if you are laid off for four weeks or more you may be entitled to claim redundancy pay. You can see Unite’s detailed guidance on lay off here.


An employee who is not available for work due to sickness absence is not treated as being laid off for the purposes of the statutory scheme.


Where Unite is recognised employers should consult with the union before closing any workplaces.


Unite is calling on all employers and the government to maintain and protect workers’ normal pay during any COVID-19 workplace closures.


On March 20 the government announced it would be introducing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which will provide employers with financial support to continue paying workers laid off (or “furloughed” as they are referring to lay off) because of the Coronavirus outbreak. The scheme details have not yet been confirmed but the announcement said the scheme will pay up to 80 per cent of workers’ wages (capped at £2,500 per month) from March 1, 2020.


The scheme details are urgently awaited and this page will be updated when details are confirmed.


Information correct at time of press. More questions and answers to follow over the next few days – but if you’re in any doubt see Unite’s website here and of course the government’s site here.



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