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Coronavirus: My Money, My Business, My Rights

Coronavirus: My money, My Business, My Rights

You can’t get away from it. Every other news story is about it. You’ve cancelled your weekend getaway to Italy because of it. You may even be stockpiling tissue paper because of it. Coronavirus is beginning to affect many people in a lot of different ways, but how is your money affected, how is your business affected and how are your rights affected?

The guidance issued by Public Health England advises anyone who has returned from Hubei Province, including Wuhan, Iran, Daegu or Cheongdo in the Republic of Korea, and any area within Italy that is under containment to self isolate. In the majority of cases, self isolation could mean missing a significant period of work.

The law usually states that you could receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) at £94.24 per week if you are too ill to work. You may be entitled to more than this amount if your company has a sick pay scheme but you cannot be paid less. To qualify for SSP you must have been unwell, unable to work and off work for 4 or more days in a row. As a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, emergency legislation will now provide that  SSP will be made available from day one of sickness instead of day four when self isolating. The move means you could receive more money whilst in self-isolation due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

The move will be temporary and will lapse once it is no longer required.

In changes announced in the recent Budget, businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be able to claim back from the government two weeks of SSP paid to staff affected by the Coronavirus. This will hopefully reduce the financial impact of the outbreak on small businesses.

As a business owner, its is important to protect not only the people that keep the business going but the business itself. Disaster Recovery plans should be implemented if necessary to allow for continuation of operations. It would be prudent to have a call with your insurance brokers to understand how and if coronavirus is included in your business continuity cover. It may also benefit you to understand any measures you should be taking to ensure continuity of cover during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Your travel plans might have been affected by the recent outbreak and you should ensure you are aware of your rights regarding refunds and compensation. Your rights will depend on the terms of your insurance policy and your choice of airline. It is important to read the terms and conditions of both your airline and insurance before making any decisions about your travel plans. A ‘disruption to travel’ clause will usually contain all the details you need but it is always best to read terms in their entirety to get a complete understanding.

Insurers and airlines will generally take their cues from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Where the FCO advises against travel to a particular country, you risk invalidating your travel insurance if you do not follow their advice.

Where the FCO has advised against travel you should be entitled to a refund or be eligible to rebook your holiday depending on the provider you used to book. The best place to start for a refund would be the holiday provider or airline. It is important to note that refunds will usually not be offered where your choice to cancel is not based on a government warning or advice against travel to a particular country and normal terms and cancellation charges will usually apply in such instances.

At the time of writing, the Coronavirus outbreak has been classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation and as with any international crisis it is important to stay updated on developments. The government websites below are being updated regularly and are the best place to go for guidelines in the first instance.

To all our readers and clients, please stay well.

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