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COVID19: Work and benefits

If you are in work

England

The restrictions in England have been relaxed and as of 13 May, people who cannot work from home are being encouraged to go back to work. You can read the government’s full guidance by sector here.

All sections contain the following information:

Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals have been strongly advised not to work outside the home. Clinically vulnerable individuals, who are at high risk of severe illness (for example, people with some pre-existing conditions), have been asked to take extra care in observing social distancing and should be helped to work from home, either in their current role or in an alternative role.

If clinically vulnerable (but not extremely clinically extremely vulnerable) individuals cannot work from home, they should be offered the option of the safest available on-site roles, enabling them to stay 2m away from others. If they have to spend time within 2m of others, you should carefully assess whether this involves an acceptable level of risk.

As for any workplace risk you must take into account specific duties to those with protected characteristics, including, for example, expectant mothers who are, as always, entitled to suspension on full pay if suitable roles cannot be found. Particular attention should also be paid to people who live with clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

The lockdown remains in place and only key workers should be at their work.

General information

  • If you are concerned that you or a member of your family is being put at risk by being asked to return to work, we have more in depth information here which is based on information provided by a barrister as a Word document or PDF.
  • Speak to your health professional for further advice and to your employer if you have concerns.
  • Within workplaces the two-metre social distance rule should be maintained, and if that is not possible then your employer has a responsibility to protect you and to help us all fight this virus.
  • If you are a member of a recognised trade union check their advice, and ask that they to speak to your employer. The unions also have useful advice on their websites. 

 

If you are claiming benefits

Face to face assessments

  • The DWP have announced the suspension of all PIP, ESA and UC face-to-face assessments for three months from Tuesday 17 March. Anyone who had a face-to-face assessment appointment scheduled from Tuesday 17 March onwards does not need to attend.
  • You should be contacted by IAS (Atos), Capita or Maximus to discuss next steps and alternative arrangements. This may mean your claim will be assessed on currently available evidence.
  • In some cases the assessment provider might also carry out a telephone assessment. This may take the form of supplementary questions where there is not enough information in the existing evidence.

Appeals

  • Tribunal judges have been given the power to sit alone and to make decisions about PIP, ESA, UC and DLA appeals just on the papers.
  • Under the new powers, a tribunal judge can make a provisional decision just on the paperwork where they believe a successful outcome for the claimant is highly likely.
  • Once a provisional decision is made both you and the DWP will be asked if you agree with that decision.
  • If you both agree, it will become a final decision.

If either you or the DWP are not happy, you can still insist that the case goes to a full hearing.

If a full hearing is required, wherever possible it will be done remotely. This may be by video link or telephone conference.

PIP awards, benefits reviews, reassessments

The DWP have announced that there will be no new reviews or reassessments of benefits for three months from Tuesday 24 March.

Benefits affected include:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Attendance Allowance (AA)

Where an assessment has already taken place for PIP, the decision making process will continue.

Where you already have an assessment scheduled, the assessment provider should contact you to explain whether a paper or telephone assessment will take place.

If your PIP award is due to end, it will be extended.

Updated 8 April 2020