Advice and Support
NotH are attempting to collate links to useful advice and information that people may need throughout the pandemic and beyond.
We will continue to add to this page as information becomes available.
Employment | Welfare | Covid 19 | Housing
Accessing Advice and Representation
The first port of call to obtain advice on employment matters should be your workplace union rep or your union. If you are not a member of a union you can find out which union to join here. Most unions cannot provide advice or representation to non-members. It is more important than ever to not only consider joining a union but get actively involved.
If you cannot obtain employment advice from a union the below organisations offer advice on employment issues.
Employment Advice Line: 03300 555 300
You should be aware that these organisations are generally unable to offer workplace representation so they are no substitute for being a union member.
You have a legal right to be a member of a trade union regardless of whether your employer formally recognises a union in your workplace. You are entitled to be represented by a union rep all formal disciplinary and grievance hearings. Your union membership is between you and your union and does not have to be disclosed to your employer.
Welfare & Benefits
All applications for benefits can now be done online via GOV.UK.
/benefits a number of organisations can offer support in making claims, form completion and appealing decisions.
Your local councillor, MLA or MP should also be able to provide advice on a range of issues, including benefits and welfare, most of them run regular advice surgeries for constituents, do not let them off the hook!
The UK Government has introduced social distancing restrictions and is urging people to:
Stay at home
Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
Wash your hands as soon as you get home
Do not meet others, even friends or family. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.
Full details can be found here.
Furlough Retention Scheme
Being ‘furloughed’ means being put on temporary leave. The government has set up this scheme to assist those who are unable to work because their employer has been forced to close. The scheme aims to reimburse employers with a portion of their employees’ wages if they keep their staff on the books during the closure.
At present the government is willing to cover 80% of an employees salary, capped at £2500 a month. Your employer must pay you at least 80% of your wages and then claim it back from the government, you should be taxed as normal
Being furloughed is a change to your terms of employment and to avail of this scheme your employer needs your consent. A typical template letter which is being used by employers can be seen here, you need to respond to this to ensure you can continue to be paid. You cannot take on additional work while receiving wages on furlough.
While the government is only covering 80% of wage costs for employers this does not mean that your employer should not cover the additional 20%, some employers have chosen to do this.
You can find out if you are eligible and get full details on the scheme here.
Employers Guidance from NI Executive
The NI Department for the Economy has issued the guidance to employers on what actions they should be taking to protect people at work and those who are isolating. This document is useful for workers trying to assess if their employer is meeting their obligations to keep you safe. If you feel your employer is not following this guidance you should contact your union or the Labour Relations Agency.
Covid-19: Working Through this together
Coronavirus Self Employed Income Support Scheme
The government has launched a scheme to assist those people who are self-employed. Details of criteria and how to apply can be found here.
If you are struggling with your rent or mortgage as a result of Covid-19 the following information may be of use.
The Department of Communities has an agreement with the NI Housing Executive and Housing Associations that social housing tenants will not be evicted if they encounter difficulties associated with Coronavirus
Anyone who has lost work as a result of Coronavirus who has claimed Universal Credit can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment to have their rent paid for 13 weeks.
Full information on this relevant to private renters, social housing tenants and students is available from Housing Rights NI - Coronavirus
The government has announced that lenders will offer a 3-month mortgage holiday, which will not affect your credit history.
If you are struggling to pay your mortgage. Advice on how to arrange this with your lender is available from Housing Rights NI, including details on what to do if your lender is refusing you a payment holiday.