Coronavirus: what are your rights at work?

Coronavirus: what are your rights at work?

Find out your rights if you have to take time off work due because of coronavirus

Brean Horne
Tue, 03/03/2020 – 12:17

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As more cases of coronavirus are reported in the UK, some people are being advised to self-isolate to prevent the virus spreading.

People have been advised to self-isolate if:

  • They have returned from an area which has had a coronavirus outbreak
  • They have been in contact with someone who has coronavirus

We outline your rights if you have to take time out of work because of coronavirus.  

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation involves staying at a secure indoor location and avoiding contact with other people. This is to prevent you from spreading the disease to your family, friends and the wider community.

Public Health England (PHE) guidance recommends a self-isolation period of 14 days.

When self-isolating you must:

  • Stay indoors
  • Not go to work, school or public areas
  • Not use public transport e.g. buses trains, tubes or taxis
  • Avoid visitors to your home
  • Ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you e.g. getting groceries, medication and other shopping

For more information on how to self-isolate correctly read the full PHE guidance.

Will I get paid if I self-isolate?

If you have been instructed to self-isolate, you will be entitled to sick leave. According to health secretary Matt Hancock, self-isolation should be considered “sickness for employment purposes.” The amount of pay you’ll receive will depend on your employment contract. If your employer doesn’t not offer sick pay, you will be entitled to statutory sick pay for up to 28 weeks. This is currently £94.25 per week from the fourth day of illness.

What happens if I’m not sick, but work tells me to stay home?

If you are not ill and have not be asked to self-isolate but your employer tells you to stay home, you will be entitled to your usual pay.

What happens if I have to take time out of work to care for someone?

You are entitled to take time off work to help someone who depends on you in an ‘unexpected emergency’. This includes:

  • If your child’s school has been closed and you have to arrange childcare
  • Your child or another dependent is sick, needs to go into isolation or the hospital

While there is no statutory right to pay for this time off, some employers may offer pay depending on your contract or workplace policy.

What happens if someone with coronavirus comes to work?

If someone with coronavirus comes to work, the PHE health protection team will get in touch with your employer to assess the case. They will then be advised on actions or precautions to take, for example, closing down the workplace.

What happens if I don’t want to go to work in case I catch coronavirus?

If you are afraid of catching coronavirus at work, speak to your employer immediately.

Employers should try to resolve your concerns and ensure the health and safety of their staff. For example, you may be given the option to work from home for a certain period of time.

If you still don’t want to go into the office, your employer may be able to arrange for you to take time off as holiday or unpaid leave. They are not obliged to do so, and persistent absence from work could result in disciplinary action.

Can I still claim benefits if I self-isolate?

If you are unable to attend your usual appointments due to self-isolation, you’ll need to phone the office responsible for paying your benefit and explain your reason for absence. Not doing this could result in you losing your benefits payments. If you are on Universal Credit, you can use your online journal to explain why you’re unable to attend an appointment.

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Royal Mint unveils set of James Bond coins to mark release of No Time to Die

Royal Mint unveils set of James Bond coins to mark release of No Time to Die

The collection includes its most expensive coin ever with a face value of £7,000

Stephen Little
Tue, 03/03/2020 – 11:28

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The Royal Mint has released a set of commemorative coins to celebrate the release of the 25th James Bond film.

The Bond collection features three coin designs which when placed together reveal the famous 007 motif.

The first coin from the series has the profile of the classic Bond Car, the Aston Martin DB5.

The second has the famous submarine car that appeared in The Spy Who Loved Me, while the third has James Bond’s iconic jacket and bow tie.

The cheapest coin in the collection is made from cupronickel and has a retail price of £13.

There are also three half ounce silver proof coins with a face value of £1, retailing at £65.

Don’t expect to see them turn up in your change any time soon though, as the coins won’t be going into circulation.

The collection has been launched ahead the new James Bond film No Time to Die, which is released on 2 April.

Designers Christian Davies and Matt Dent said: “As Bond fans ourselves, we’ve enjoyed re-watching some of our favourite films. The design series focuses on iconic imagery from the Bond films.

“Finding the balance between design detail and what can be accomplished in production was a challenge, nowhere more so than the intricate spokes of the DB5’s wheel.”

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As part of the collection the Royal Mint also unveiled a 7kg gold coin with a face value of £7,000.

The one-of-a-kind coin features an engraving of the Aston Martin DB5, with its famous BMT 216A number plate and is surrounded by a gun barrel.

It measures 18.5cm and is the largest coin with the highest face value to be produced in the Mint’s 1,100-year history.

The range includes 2kg gold with a face value £2,000, which has a recommended retail value of £129,990.

The Royal Mint is also launching the world’s first James Bond precious metal bar available in gold and silver.

The coins may be a collectors’ item for Bond fans, but for those looking to invest in gold, there may be cheaper or easier ways. 

Coins in the collection

James Bond Crown Brilliant Uncirculated Coin RRP £13.00

James Bond Two Ounce Silver Proof Coin RRP £235.00

James Bond Half Ounce Silver Proof Coin RRP £65.00

James Bond Two Ounce Gold Proof Coin RRP £3,985.00

James Bond One Ounce Silver Proof Coin RRP £87.50

James Bond Quarter-Ounce Gold Proof Coin RRP £517

James Bond 2020 Quarter-Ounce Gold Proof Coin £517.00

James Bond 7kg Gold Proof Coin (No RRP – call to discuss purchase)

James Bond 2020 One Ounce Gold Proof Coin RRP £2,070.00

James Bond Special Issue 2020 Two Ounce 2kg Gold Proof Coin RRP £129,990

Myron Jobson, personal finance campaigner at interactive investor (Moneywise’s parent company), says: “Diamonds may be forever, but gold can be a nervous investor’s best friend, if a very fickle one best kept as part of a well-balanced portfolio.

“The James Bond coin and gold bar collection is more than just a pricey souvenir to commemorate the upcoming film. They each have an intrinsic value which could be worth more than its weight in gold if there are enough gold fingered 007 fanatics keen to get their hands on one.

“In the modern era, many investors dedicate a small portion of their portfolio to gold to hedge against uncertainty in the wider economy. But even gold can have a mind of its own – whether it’s emotional, cultural, or economic – gold is not immune to sensitivities.”

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Common excuses that stop you from budgeting

Most people want to manage their money in the best way possible. However, the idea of putting a budget together can stir up feelings of anxiety, discomfort, and out-and-out rebellion!

To be truly money-savvy, you need a thorough understanding of your income and outgoings. A budget is the best way to achieve this. Let’s take a look at why budgeting can be so difficult, and how to combat those common excuses. 

piggy-banking

Why is budgeting so HARD?!

There can be many reasons why budgeting isn’t always easy. Some common ones include:

  • Not knowing what your most important bills are
  • Not having a realistic budget
  • Feeling like you’re being punished by cutting down on stuff you love
  • Not having a big financial goal to work towards. 

The human brain is a mess of contradictions. It can obsess so much about what the future holds, but it sometimes struggles to see how small, daily efforts can add up to long-lasting, positive changes.

There’s also good old-fashioned impatience. One of the reasons why a new exercise regime can often fail is because it takes time to form the healthy habits we’re working towards. You need to do the same routine, day in and day out, and be assured that you’ll see results down the line. 

Budgeting can present a similar problem. It’s easier to cut down on social outings and takeaways if you know it’s going to pay off in the form of being debt free, having money set aside for an emergency or being able to pay for that holiday you’ve been dreaming of. However, goals like this can seem an awful long way away, which can affect your long-term motivation.

While you’re putting your budget together, think about:

  • How much money you truly need for your living expenses
  • What goal you’re working towards
  • How you’re going to ‘be your own cheerleader’ and keep yourself motivated

So now we’ve looked at why budgeting can be difficult – and how to make it easier – let’s unpack those common excuses that can stop you living your best financial life!

1) “I find budgets too restricting”

If you’ve found budgets unworkable in the past, it may be because they weren’t realistic to your needs. Your living expenses are paramount, no matter how much debt you’re trying to pay off or how big your savings goal is. 

When budgeting, people often want to see results fast, such as a big fat emergency savings pot or all of their debts paid off quickly. These are fantastic goals to have, as long as they’re worked on in a realistic way. As examples, the following ways would be unrealistic:

  • Drastically cutting down your food and supermarket spending. You can’t master your finances if you’re wasting away or getting ill because you’re not eating properly
  • Denying yourself any money for new clothes. Having good quality clothes is about more than keeping you warm (and not getting arrested by leaving the house naked). What if you need new smart clothes for a job interview? What if your favourite shirt shrinks in the tumble dryer? Even if it’s a bumper pack of undies, you need to have money available for new clothes from time to time
  • Not allowing yourself any money for transport. What if you need to get somewhere in a hurry? What if auntie Ethel takes a fall and you need to travel from St Ives to Southport to visit her in hospital?
  • Not setting any money aside for sports, hobbies and entertainment. You need to relax and have fun, and that requires at least a little bit of money. By all means, seek out and enjoy free entertainment and cheap days out where possible, but have some money available for a trip to the cinema or the occasional night out with your mates

Take a look at what you spend each month, and think about what truly makes you happy. If it’s going to a music festival once a year, or treating yourself to a new pair of shoes, then think about how to set a bit of money aside each month to cover these expenses. Remember; this isn’t about depriving yourself!

how to deal with financial stress

2) “I can’t get my partner to stick to a budget”

It can be very frustrating when you’re trying to be more money-savvy but your significant other doesn’t want to follow your budget. It’s a free country, and they have a right to spend their income as they see fit. However, you also have the right to make sound decisions with how you spend and save your own money.

If your partner’s unwilling to follow your budget, you could try:

  • Building a budget based only on your income and expenditure. For example, if your partner pays all of the bills, but you give them money towards housekeeping, put ‘0’ in your budget for each of those bills you don’t pay towards. You then put the amount you give your partner in ‘housekeeping’
  • Making stealth savings wherever you can. Are you in charge of the big food shop? Try switching one or two items to cheaper alternatives each time and see if your partner notices (chances are they won’t, as many own brands are just as good as the premium brands). Do you have children? Suggest free activities that you could do as a family (your local council website should list free or upcoming events that are happening near you). Take packed lunches where possible. Give charity shops a try. Look out for BOGOF deals. It all adds up
  • Having an honest chat about budgeting with your partner. Have they tried budgeting in the past and it wasn’t for them? Do they have a lot of stress around money and find it easier to ignore it? If you share some of your worries around money or hopes for the future, you may find that they’re more receptive to budgeting with you.

3) “Putting a budget together feels like more work – I’m busy enough!”

When you look at a finished budget, it can seem like a lot of hassle. If that’s the case for you, why not try and tackle it one bit at a time?

There’s no rule saying you have to finish your budget in one go. In fact, our 7 Days, 7 Ways email support programme can help you put your budget together step by step, over a number of days. There are also budgeting apps you could try. 

You can get up-to-date balances on your debts pretty quickly. All you need to do is check your credit file through one of the three credit reference agencies – Experian, Credit Karma or Equifax. 

As for your bills, take ten minutes to go through your recent bank statement. You should find the regular amounts you pay out for council tax, rent, mortgage and other important costs.

For food, you can work out your monthly average by counting up what you spent in the supermarket over an average week. 

Building a budget isn’t usually a rip-roaring roller coaster ride through Funtown, but sometimes you have to do the boring stuff to make big changes to your life. 

4) “I’ve tried and failed to budget in the past. It’s not for me.”

Sometimes when you give something a try for the first time, and you ‘fail’ at it, it can be tempting to give up on it completely.

One of the childhood rites of passage for many people is to learn how to ride a bike. Was this the case for you? Cast your mind back to those first few tries. Remember when the trailing wheels finally came off, and how wobbly you felt riding on just two wheels? Remember falling off and scraping your knees? Remember crying and wanting to give up?

Budgeting is like riding a bike. Yes, you might feel wobbly and uncertain at first. Yes, you might ‘fall over’ and spend too much one month or not put enough in savings the next. Eventually though, you’ll find your balance and it’ll all kick into place. You just need to stick with it!

Looking for more inspiration? Mark in the MoneyAware team has some great tips to help take you from financial novice to budgeting king:

5) “I just don’t have enough money!”

Like many people, you may find that there’s just too much month at the end of your money. Daily expenses such as food and petrol get more expensive, and not everyone gets a wage rise when inflation hits.  

Have you checked to see what benefits you may be entitled to? We have a benefits checker than can help you do just that. There may also be ways you can make some extra money.

Please note: any extra earnings must be declared to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

6) “I’ve managed fine without one so far…”

This might be true. However, there’s a difference between ‘managing’ and ‘optimal financial fitness’, which is what a budget can help you achieve.

As you’ll learn through our 7 Days, 7 Ways email support programme, it’s the difference between thriving and surviving. We’re guessing that you want to do more of the former.

7) “I have an irregular income”

The job market is changing all the time, and self-employed and zero contract gigs are becoming more common as a result. Take a moment to think of your food delivery driver or parcel deliverer, as they’re working to a zero-hours contract. This is a relatively new type of employment, but it can make a person’s income pretty unpredictable. 

Having an irregular income shouldn’t stop you from making an effective budget. You could try:

  • Thinking of the lowest ‘net estimate’ of your income each month, and building your budget based on this figure. By doing this, you can ensure that your priority expenses are covered, and any extra money that you get can go into savings or towards any debts you’re trying to pay off 
  • Putting extra money into a ‘Hill and Valley’ fund. This is a fund you can dip into if you have a particularly lean month. When you have a great month with a higher than expected income, set some of the extra money in this fund so you have something to fall back on if times are tough. 

(Please note: StepChange Debt Charity is unable to give debt advice to self-employed/zero-hour contract clients. Business Debtline can give you free and confidential debt advice solutions that’s tailored to your circumstances)

8) “I’ll never be any good at budgeting and that’s the end of it!”

Humans tend to be very ‘all or nothing’ in our thinking. If there have been a few ‘failed’ attempts at budgeting in the past, it can create a feeling of shame that’s very difficult to shift.

The fact you’re here, at the end of this article, means that you have what it takes to make an effective, realistic budget that can help you turn your finances around for good. Thousands of people have made positive changes to how they manage their money, and so can you! 

Looking for more great ideas to boost your budget? Sign up to the MoneyAware newsletter and we’ll send your our best tips and ideas each month!

Procrastination: is it keeping you skint and in debt?

Right now I’m putting off doing three things. Two drawings that people have offered to pay me for and a meter reading. I like drawing, so there’s no reason for me to not be doing that. And the meter reading is a two second job.

It doesn’t stop there. Only yesterday I cancelled my TV subscription. That seems thrifty but my TV broke in December (I fell on it) and I haven’t replaced it. That reminds me I should cancel my TV licence too.

I wonder how my life might be different if I wasn’t so good at procrastinating. It’s pretty obvious to see that I’m throwing money away through my own laziness. Money that I really need.

So what day-to-day tasks that we put off end up costing us money? Here’s the list of shame.

Procrastination problem 1: Getting debt advice

Did you know that it can often take people a year after realising they have a debt problem to get advice? This could be for a number of reasons, including:

  • Feeling anxious about talking to a debt advisor over the phone
  • Having to face up to their debt problem
  • Worrying about how creditors might react
  • Fears over how a debt solution might impact their life
  • Not wanting loved ones to know they have a debt problem

As with many worries that keep people awake at night, getting debt advice doesn’t have to be traumatic. In fact, debt advice charities such as StepChange are here to give free, confidential and non-judgmental advice and support.

If you feel anxious about talking over the phone about your debt, you’re by no means alone. StepChange has a confidential online debt advice service that you can use in your own time, at your own pace. There’s also webchat so you can have a natter with one of our friendly debt advisors if you get stuck or have any questions. Pretty neat-o, right?

Unsure if you even need debt advice? If you have a minute spare, try the 60 second debt test. By answering a few quick questions, you’ll know if you’ll benefit from taking a closer look at your budget and any debt solutions that might be beneficial for you.

Procrastination problem 2: Meal planning

Planning meals throughout the week helps save money. That’s obvious. If we only buy the ingredients we need it helps reduce food waste. We’ll also be less likely to order a sneaky takeaway if we’ve already got food in the house.

It’s not that simple though. While I salute the food planning gurus, who religiously stick to their food plans, that life is not for me. I need food flexibility. How will I know if the food I planned for Wednesday is the food I’ll want to eat on Wednesday? It never is, guys. IT NEVER IS.

The answer to this problem is simple. Freeze some meals in advance and have a few ‘store cupboard’ options in your plan. As long as you keep monitoring your food to make sure it’s not going off, you can mix up your food plan and make it more realistic. Money-wasting disaster averted. Phew.

Procrastination problem 3: Paying bills

paying bills

Getting home to find a bill at your doorstep is the worst. Remember when you were a kid and post used to be fun? I miss those days. Where are my old pen-pals now? I feel so abandoned. The bank is probably the worst pen-pal I’ve ever had.

Setting up Direct Debits for bills means you can avoid late payment charges and your bills are sorted without you even thinking about it.

Obviously you need to make sure you’ve got enough money in your account to cover the bills, but that should be fairly simple if you set up a budget. Some places even offer discounts for paying by Direct Debit. I’m definitely going to do this – as soon as I get round to it.

It’s worth mentioning that certain bills are considered priority bills because of the actions that can be taken by the creditor if you don’t pay them. So make sure you’re paying these first, you can find out what priority bills are on our website.

I thought I’d mention that our 7 Days, 7 Ways email programme can help you deal with bills that you’ve been avoiding. Give it a try!

Procrastination problem 4: Decluttering

Decluttering is one of the few things in adult life that I’m actually good at. I love throwing or giving stuff away. That’s the problem. Instead of giving stuff to charity shops, why am I not trying to sell it on eBay? Because I never get round to it, that’s why.

eBay has even simplified the selling process by creating an easy to use app. But then there’s the whole situation of going to the post office to send it off.

However, with a host of simple online selling apps making it easier to sell your stuff, isn’t the post office a small price to pay for some extra cash? MoneySavingExpert.com has some great online selling tips, so there’s really no excuse.

Procrastination problem 5: Cancelling contracts

cancelling contracts

I’ve already mentioned my TV subscription cancellation situation and yeah, I feel pretty bad about it. Especially as I can’t afford to be throwing money away on a service I don’t use. But I don’t think I’m alone in delaying cancelling contracts I no longer use.

Why do we do it? We sign up for a free trial, then forget to cancel and end up paying for something we don’t use.

Then there’s the gym. If you’re anything like me, you enter into a year-long contract and go about three times before giving it up as a bad idea. And then you end up paying to be reminded of how unhealthy you are.

Cancel unused contracts as soon as possible. If you’re leaving a contract early, check the agreement for early cancellation charges. If cancelling costs a lot, it might be cheaper to ride the contract out. If that’s the case you should make use of the service. If that means moving into the gym then so be it!

Procrastination problem 6: Meter readings

Again, something I mentioned I’m guilty of. (Well, I’m guilty of this whole list aren’t I?)

Taking regular meter readings means energy companies won’t use an estimate to base your bill on. As a result, you should only be paying for the energy you actually use. Hooray!

You don’t even have to write the reading down, just take a photo of it on your phone. Then upload the number to your online energy account. So simple.

Procrastination problem 7: Forgetting to pay fines

Parking and speeding fines are a whole different kind of nightmare. I don’t even drive and they haunt my dreams. If you forget to pay the fine can rapidly increase and get out of hand.

If you’re not disputing your fine, get it paid as soon as possible. Pin the ticket to your fridge. Make it the background on your phone. Frame it on your desk. Do whatever it takes. If you remember one thing for the rest of your life, make sure it’s to pay that fine.

Procrastination problem 8: Health check ups

Did I ever tell you about the time I didn’t go to the dentist for about ten years? Yeah. That happened. By the time I was finally able to register with an NHS dentist (after a three year waiting list) it was a miracle my teeth were perfectly fine.

Others have not been so lucky. A few of my other dentist-deprived pals have visited the dentist to be told they needed fillings but had narrowly avoided a root canal and any later would have resulted in costly treatment.

Make sure you allow some funds in your budget to pay for stuff like the dentist and eye checks. Then, make sure you schedule in appointments so you can avoid any disasters.

Procrastination problem 9: Checking your bank account

My bank account is either my best friend or worst nightmare. Around pay day, we get along great. Towards the end of the month, we don’t even make eye contact.

The thing is, it’s important to keep an eye on your account so you can track your spending. Avoiding the situation doesn’t make it go away. Instead, you’re at risk of overspending and could face overdraft charges as a result.

There are easy ways to keep track of your money. You can get a budgeting app, or you can download an online banking app and some banks even send weekly texts of your account balance so you know the situation.

Procrastination problem 10: Not buying insurance

I’ve got a little secret for you. I don’t have contents insurance. Every time I get to work and try to remember if I’ve turned the oven or my hair straighteners off I imagine my flat burning down and taking all my stuff with it into a fiery grave.

I can’t afford to replace my things, so why don’t I have insurance? I’ve even written before about the importance of forking out for pet insurance (RIP Pepe the cat) and holiday insurance after a mosquito mishap in Turkey ‘09.

It may seem annoying to pay for something you don’t use month after month. But when something does go wrong, you’ll thank your sensible self for sorting it out.

I’m going to get contents insurance today. Let’s just hope today is not the day my flat burns down.

As we reach the end of this list I think it’s pretty clear I need to make some serious changes to my lifestyle. If you’re like me, we should probably be friends. But also, you should probably read these tips that can help us stop procrastinating when it comes to money related things and hopefully save us some cash. (Procrastinating with homework and other non-money related stuff is fine obviously.)

  1. Set reminders on your phone to complete certain tasks
  2. Remember, avoiding a task doesn’t make it go away. You’ll have to do it one day so just do it now
  3. Sign up to apps to help you budget and keep track of your finances

If you’d like to receive more money saving tips, why not sign up to our newsletter?

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