The Covid-19 outbreak has, changed our working habits, affected our home lives and led to the cancellation or postponement of holidays and many other planned activities.
We have all felt the impact – but what are our rights as consumers and employees?
Citizens Advice information
The Citizens Advice bureau has a host of information on its website regarding Coronavirus and your rights as consumers and employees.
Here is our summary.
First check the T&Cs of your booking and travel insurance. You are legally entitled to a refund within 14 days for package holidays, while for flight-only bookings departing the UK and cancelled by the airline you should be offered a refund, replacement flight or re-booking for similar flight.
If you are travelling to a country or region against Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice, check that your travel insurance isn’t invalidated. Check your insurance and booking T&Cs for your rights if the airline or travel agent cancels your trip – or doesn’t cancel and you don’t want to travel. If there’s no FCO guidance and you decide not to travel, you can get a refund from package bookings but may be charged a cancellation fee. An airline is not legally required to refund you.
Again, check the T&Cs. You should get your money back from advance booking of a refundable room, but you’re only likely to get a refund from a non-refundable room if the FCO advises against all but essential travel.
If an event goes ahead but you decide not to attend, you have no legal right to a refund. If the organiser cancels or postpones the event, you should receive a refund – providing you booked your ticket from an official seller.
If at any point you feel you’ve been the victim of a scam, you should contact your bank.
Your rights at work
If you have to self-isolate, you will be covered under statutory sick pay – your employer may have an additional sickness policy in place, so it’s worth checking with them. The self-employed cannot claim statutory sick pay, but you may be able to claim benefits or get an increase in an existing benefit claim.
Working from home
You don’t have an automatic right to work from home, but you can request this from your employer, especially if you have a condition that makes you particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. If you have a disability, your employer may have to view you working from home as a ‘reasonable adjustment’, as outlined in the Equality Act 2010.
There are cases where a business can make you redundant because of Covid-19, but you should consult legal advice within three months of the end of your employment if you think that you have been unfairly dismissed. You have different rights depending on whether you are an employee with over or under two years’ service. Casual workers cannot claim unfair dismissal, but it’s still worth getting legal advice.
If your child’s school is closed you might have a lawful right to take unpaid ‘time off for dependents’, but the law is not always clear about what would count as a ‘reasonable’ motive for this. Some employers may offer you paid time off, whether or not it is in your contract, so it’s worth asking. Equally, they may consider allowing home working, different shift patterns or booking the time as holiday.
There is a lot more detail on all of these issues on the Citizens Advice site and official government sites, plus it’s always worth checking contracts and T&Cs before contacting an organisation you have made a holiday or event booking with, or your employer in cases of work issues.