Common locum questions relating to coronavirus

This FAQ aims to deal with some of the concerns that will be troubling our locum members in particular, although some will be relevant to all members. Updated 31 March 2020

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1. What additional government support might there be?

See Coronavirus: responding to the UK Government announcement on support for the self-employed

We appreciate that accessing the benefits system will be a new and daunting experience for many members. As well as the links to the government website referred to in the link above you may also find useful information on a number of issues including universal credit on the
IPSE website, (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed)

2. All my work has been cancelled? What can I do?

(a)  Check whether the contract or agreement sets out what happens when shifts are cancelled and whether there are any notice requirements  

(b)  If you have income protection insurance you should check any policies, although please be aware many insurers do not cover this kind of event

(c)  Explore any available government support 

There may be useful information at: Tax helpline to support businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)

Please refer to other sources of support at the following links:

3. What about VAT?

Most self-employed earn below the threshold for registering for VAT, which stands at £85,000. The chancellor said he will be deferring VAT for the next quarter, saving businesses £30bn.

4. What about sick pay?

For those working as locums, unfortunately there would only be an entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay if you could show “employed earner” status. 

The self-employed can now access in full universal credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay for employees (£94.25 per week up to 28 weeks). 

We are unable to offer advice on welfare benefits and we cannot say whether you would qualify but the government website offering more guidance is at gov.uk/universal-credit and gov.uk/guidance/new-style-employment-and-support-allowance.

5. What about my other outgoings?

Support for those affected by COVID-19

  • Mortgages and coronavirus: information for consumers

  • For those in rental accommodation you may find useful information at:  Complete ban on evictions and additional protection for renters

  • If you are experiencing difficulties paying back personal loans or credit card bills as a result of COVID-19, the www.gov.ukwebsite states:

    • The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) called on lenders to use flexibility built into their rules to support consumers, taking into account customers’ individual circumstances. Many major lenders have already made statements to this effect
    • If you are experiencing difficulties paying back loans or credit card bills because of COVID-19, you should talk to your lender
    • If you agree a payment holiday with your lender, they should record these in such a way that will not impact on your credit score

6. I only became self-employed after April 2019 and so haven't filed a tax return yet. What help can I get?

Unfortunately this would exclude you from the government’s self-employed support. Please refer to the links on this page for other help that may be available. 

7. I am a director of a limited company and I pay myself a salary and dividends. Can I benefit from the government’s support for the self-employed?

At this stage you would unfortunately be excluded from the self-employed scheme. The government guidance states that if you operate a PAYE scheme then you may be able to make use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme but our understanding is that this is only in respect of any salary that you pay yourself under PAYE. This would also require you not to work to claim 80% of that wage. For further details see our guidance for employers on furlough leave.