COVID-19: work and finances

Last reviewed August 2022

Work

I am at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, should I work from home?

The guidance on working from home for people at higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they get COVID-19 is different in each nation. Visit the government websites below to find out more: 

England

In England, the government recommends that you work from home if this feels right for you. If you cannot work from home, speak to your employer about what arrangements they can make to reduce your risk. It may be that you are entitled to a Reasonable Adjustment under the Equality Act.
If you are not immunosuppressed, the government no longer asks you to work from home. They recommend talking to your employer to agree your return to work. 

Scotland

The Scottish government advises that you can begin returning to the workplace. They recommend a phased return, with a mix of in-person and remote working where possible. 

Employers are encouraged to consider the needs of people at higher risk. This includes people who might prefer to work from home, or people who are keen to return to the workplace. 

Wales

The Welsh government recommends that you continue to work from home if you can. But you can return to work if your workplace is COVID secure. Your employer should help you to transition back to work safely and must take all reasonable measures to minimise exposure to coronavirus. 

Northern Ireland

The government of Northern Ireland recommends that you work from home if you can. If you cannot work from home, you can go to your work as long as your employer has taken reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

 

 

I am worried about going to work

If you are not able to work from home, there are steps your employer can take to keep you safe. Read information about risk and safety below.

Citizen's advice have some useful information if you're worried about working because of coronavirus.

 

Am I at risk by going to my workplace? 

Everyone, including those with no underlying health conditions, is exposed to a certain degree of risk from coronavirus, and the level of risk will depend on individual circumstances. Absolute safety can never be guaranteed. 

The more people you are in close contact with, the higher the risk of catching coronavirus. 

In terms of your risk at work, it is worth considering: 

  • How you get to work. 
  • Who you work with. 
  • How many people you come into contact with at work. 
  • What type of setting you work in. 

Read our latest information on COVID-19 risk for people with Crohn's or Colitis.

 

What can my employer do to reduce my risk of catching COVID-19 in the workplace?

Speak to your employer early. Find out what they expect from you and what they are doing to help protect their employees.  

Employers are no longer required by law to carry out a risk assessment specifically for COVID-19. However, they are encouraged to continue with protective measures and should follow the working safely guidance in each nation:

England: Reducing the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19, in the workplace.

Scotland: Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer businesses and workplaces.

Wales: Workplace guidance for employers and employees: COVID-19

Northern Ireland: Coronavirus (COVID-19): staying safe at work

If you have access to occupational health and employee assistance programmes in the workplace, these services can also provide you with a range of health support and advice for your physical and mental health needs. 

Your employer has a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments to help you work safely with a disability or health condition. Examples of things your employer can do to help reduce your risk include: 

  • Ensuring indoor spaces are well ventilated. 
  • Spacing out desks to avoid close contact. 
  • Reducing the number of contacts you have each day. 
  • Allocating individuals a desk instead of hot-desking. 
  • Using face masks in crowded spaces. 
  • Access to handwashing facilities. 
  • Flexible working and staggering shifts. 
  • Restricted duties to avoid direct contact with people infected with COVID-19. (If you work in the NHS, see guidance from NHS employers for further information)

Some workplaces may ask employees to carry out regular lateral flow testing.

 

What can I do if I feel my employer is not considering my risk and concerns around my safety? 

Employers may not understand the unpredictable course of Crohn’s and Colitis. If you develop a flare or change medications you may be more at risk. See our guide for employers for more information.

If you still feel your employer is not taking reasonable steps to help protect you, you can raise a concern in the following ways:  

  • Report this to your local authority 
  • Contact your employee representative 
  • Contact your trade union if you have one. If you're not a member of a trade union, you can find advice on joining one here.
  • Use the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) contact form 
  • Contact HSE by phone on 0300 003 1647 

The Health and Safety Executive can then take a range of actions, including where appropriate requiring your employer to take additional steps. 

You may also want to visit Equality Advisory and Support Service. They can provide advice and support for people who are experiencing discrimination based on their disability or health condition.

If you refuse to attend work without a valid reason, it could result in disciplinary action. If you need advice, you should contact ACAS for impartial advice about work disputes. 

We are also working hard to increase awareness amongst occupational health professionals of the risks associated with Crohn’s and Colitis.  

 

I’m worried that people I live with going into work will increase my risk

Your individual circumstances may mean you can work at home. However, you may be worried about the people you live with going out to work. See our information on communication and wellbeing to help you discuss your risk and concerns. Mind also has information on mental wellbeing.


 

People with invisible disabilities
need better support in the workplace.

Living and working through the pandemic has been challenging for everyone, but for employees living with invisible disabilities or conditions it has been especially difficult.

We are calling on companies to sign-up to pledges, showing their commitment to making the workplace more inclusive. 


Finance

Financial support during self-isolation

Citizens Advice has information on financial support for the following nations:

England

Wales

Scotland

The NHS also has information on Help and support while you're staying at home because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

 

Access to Work (England, Scotland and Wales)  

Access to Work is a scheme you can apply for which may provide support for the extra costs of working with a disability or health condition. This can only cover costs that are beyond standard reasonable adjustments an employer must provide. 

Access to Work can help you, for example, with the costs of taxis to work. This would mean you can lower your risk by avoiding public transport. It may also be able to help with the costs of making adaptations in the workplace. 

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you can apply for the scheme here.

There is a very similar scheme, also called Access to Work, in Northern Ireland. Find out more here.

 

I’ve lost my job / I've been made redundant 

If you are on a low income or out of work, you may qualify for benefits – such as Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance. Check what payments you could get from the government using this benefits calculator

If you are at risk of redundancy, or you've been made redundant, your employer should have been through a process to make sure you were selected for redundancy in a fair way. You can find detailed information on what is considered fair from Citizens Advice
 
Your employer also must not discriminate against you because you have a health condition. Acas provide more information on the redundancy process and guidance on how to appeal a redundancy decision if you think you've been treated unfairly. 

As an employee you are protected by law against unfair treatment and dismissal, if it's because of: 

  • Pregnancy.
  • Age.
  • A health condition that's considered a disability under the Equality Act – some people with Crohn’s or Colitis may fall into this category. 

It doesn’t matter how long you've worked for your employer. It could be unlawful discrimination on these grounds, if an employer either: 

  • Unreasonably tries to force someone to go to work.
  • Unreasonably disciplines someone for not going to work.

The existing employment rights framework provides protections against discrimination, unfair dismissal and detriment. Specific guidance has been published for employers and workers on work absences due to coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Citizens Advice also has information about your rights at work and how to solve problems in the workplace.  

 

I’m getting into debt / struggling to pay my bills and don’t know what to do 

If you are finding it difficult to pay your bills – such as your rent, mortgage, water or energy bills – you should call your landlord or providers and explain your situation. Many have extra measures they can take to help people who are struggling to make payments due to coronavirus. See Citizens Advice for lots of advice about what you can do if you're struggling to pay your bills. 

If you're getting into debt and you're struggling to cope, you must get help as soon as possible. You can access free expert advice based on your individual financial situation from StepChange or the National Debtline. They can help you find solutions and get you started on the next steps you can take to manage your debts. 

Read our information on Finances.


Links to other organisations and further support

ACAS - for free impartial, confidential advice on workplace rights, rules and best practice. Helpline: 0300 123 1100 

Citizens Advice England 

Citizens Advice Scotland 

Citizens Advice Wales 

Citizens Advice Northern Ireland

Coronavirus Advice Scotland 
Advice for those living in Scotland on employment, housing and personal finance, as well as cancellations and consumer rights. 
Helpline: 0808 800 9060 

Disability Rights UK 
Personal Budgets Helpline: 0330 995 0404 
Email: enquiries@disabilityrightsuk.org 

DWP - Employment and Benefits Support 
Information about the changes the government has brought in to support people who are already claiming benefits, need to claim benefits, or are at risk of losing their job as a result of coronavirus. 

Equality Advisory Service - for help with equality and discrimination 

Mind information on mental health and work during the coronavirus pandemic 

Coronavirus Finance & Bills Help (moneysavingexpert.com)

MoneyHelper - for guidance on money and pensions

National Debtline - for practical help managing debt 
Tel. 0808 808 4000 
Live chat service available on website 

Society of Occupational Medicine 'Return to work' toolkits 

StepChange - for practical help managing debt 
Tel. 0800 138 1111 
Live chat and message service available on website

Turn2us 
Organisation helping people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help. 

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Helpline service

Helpline
Service

We know it can be difficult to live with, or support someone living with these conditions. But you’re not alone. We provide up-to-date, evidence-based information and can support you to live well with Crohn’s or Colitis.

Our helpline team can provide information on a range of subjects including:

  • Managing Symptoms
  • Disability benefits
  • Medication
  • Diet
  • Test and diagnosis
  • Wellbeing
  • Employment
  • Help to find support from others living with the condition

Please contact us via telephone, email or LiveChat - 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (except English bank holidays).

If you need specific medical advice about your condition, your GP or IBD team will be best placed to help.