Coronavirus legal help for individuals
Rocket Lawyer is here to support you as a small business owner who may have legal questions during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its aftermath. We can answer your questions about family, work arrangements and taxes as well as questions on how to make a will and manage your affairs, and what to do about your property.
If you're a small business owner and have questions about how to manage your employee travel and sick leave policies, limit your liability, manage your commercial property and protect your workforce, visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) guide for small businesses.
This legal centre was last updated on 14 June 2022.
You do not need a lawyer to make a legally binding will. Provided that you are over 18 and of sound mind, you can create a will as long as it is in writing and signed by you in the presence of two witnesses (in England and Wales) or one witness (in Scotland). You can make a Living will or a Last Will and testament with Rocket Lawyer.
In England and Wales, your witnesses must be over 18, they must not be executors or beneficiaries of your will, and they must not be related to you or to anyone mentioned in your Will as a beneficiary, either by marriage or civil partnership. In Scotland, your witnesses must be over 16 and have credible information of the testator’s identity at the time of signing. They must also not be blind or illiterate. For more information, read Executing a will.
You can store your will with:
a will writing service provider
the Probate Service
at a secure location of your choice
For more information, read Storing your will.
A power of attorney grants another person the ability to deal with your affairs (eg paying your bills) on your behalf if necessary. These powers can only be set up when you have mental capacity.
In England and Wales, there are two types of powers of attorney: the general power of attorney (POA) and the lasting power of attorney (LPA). A POA is normally used for one-off events and for short periods of time, while the person granting the POA is mentally capable of making their own decisions. An LPA is meant to last indefinitely and is designed for situations where you’ve lost the mental capacity to make decisions. For more information, read Lasting powers of attorney and General powers of attorney. Make a POA or speak to a lawyer to create an LPA.
In Scotland, a Continuing Power of Attorney (CPA) is a power of attorney related to your financial/ property affairs while a Welfare Power of Attorney (WPA) authorises the attorney to make welfare decisions for you. For more information, read Power of attorney in Scotland.
Generally, employees are entitled to sick pay while self-employed individuals are not. This is because sick pay is paid by an employer.
However, assistance for self-employed individuals affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) was available through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. Note that this Scheme closed on 1 October 2021.
The Government made it easier for individuals affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) to access benefits. If self-employed people and workers whose earnings are too low to be eligible for SSP were affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) or they had to self-isolate before 24 March 2022, Employment Support Allowance (ESA) may have been claimable without individuals having to meet the ordinary eligibility criteria. This payment has now reverted to its pre-pandemic eligibility criteria.
Further, the minimum income floor was temporarily removed from Universal Credit for self-employed individuals who have to self-isolate as a result of coronavirus. The minimum income floor is an assumed level of income, which takes into account how much an individual would normally be expected to earn in a month when calculating their entitlement to Universal Credit. However, the income rules reverted to the pre-pandemic rules on 31 July 2021.
Self-employed individuals in need of financial assistance can still apply for Universal Credit over the phone, without the need of attending a jobcentre.
Self-employed individuals who do not have enough money to live on while they wait for their first Universal Credit payment can ask for an advance payment. This can be done online or through their Jobcentre Plus work coach. To apply, individuals will need to:
explain why they need an advance
verify their identity (either when they apply online or during their first phone appointment with their work coach)
provide bank account details for the advance
For more guidance visit the Government website.
The Government introduced an option to defer self-assessment payment on account to assist people affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This deferral programme ended in January 2022.
Since 20 January 2022, people in England have not been asked to work from home and most employers have initiated safe returns to workplaces. It was recommended that employers facilitated gradual returns to the workplace (eg employees working in the office 2 days a week and working from home for the remaining 3 days per week).
Most workplaces no longer have many (or any) Coronavirus (COVID-19) mitigation measures in place. However, for some workplaces and workforces, mitigation measures may still be appropriate. If this applies to you, your employer should take the necessary steps to ensure that the workplace follows the safety guidelines. Some steps that they may consider in order to reduce unnecessary contact include:
using screens or barriers to separate staff
grouping employees in fixed teams to reduce the number of people each worker has contact with
increasing the frequency of surface cleaning
In England, Wales and Scotland, there is no longer a legal requirement to self-isolate if you have (or likely have) Coronavirus (COVID-19) (ie if you have symptoms or have tested positive). As of 14 June 2022, however, in England and Scotland, the NHS guidance for people who have (or likely have) Coronavirus (COVID-19) remains to stay home and avoid contact with others when possible. In Wales, you are still encouraged to self-isolate and take a lateral flow test (LFT) if you have symptoms.
People who have been in close contact with somebody with Coronavirus (COVID-19) are no longer required to self-isolate or take daily lateral flow tests. However, employers may encourage employees who share a household with someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) to work remotely where possible.
If you do not feel comfortable going into work, speak to your employer about this. You and your employer may be able to come to an agreement. Similarly, where your workplace is open but you don’t wish to go into the office, you should speak to your employer about the possibility of working remotely and make a Flexible working request. Employers should listen to employees who are worried about going to work and should take steps to protect everyone.
If you’re concerned that your employer isn’t taking all practical and appropriate steps to promote social distancing, you should report to the local authority or the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Please note that if you refuse to come to work without a valid reason, and do not wish to, or can't, take paid or unpaid leave, then your employer may take disciplinary action against you.
Previous advice, that millions of clinically extremely vulnerable people (eg individuals on immunosuppressant drugs) should shield, has ended.
If you’re considered as a clinically vulnerable individual, you may continue to work from home, but if your job cannot be done remotely, your employer can ask you to return to the workplace. However, employers still have a responsibility to keep you safe, so you should raise any specific concerns you have about going back. Note that if you are disabled, your employer has an extra responsibility to make and pay for ‘reasonable adjustments’.
If you’re living with someone that’s clinically extremely vulnerable, you should notify your employer as they may take that into consideration when asking you to return to work.
The Test and Trace Support Payment in England provided financial assistance for people on low incomes who had to self-isolate because they tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) or were notified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Payment scheme has now closed.
The Self-Isolation Support Scheme in Wales is still open as of 14 June 2022. Workers who are advised to self-isolate because they have tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19), and who cannot work from home, may be eligible for the scheme. So may parents and carers of children who test positive. Self-employed individuals may also be eligible. To be eligible, you must either be receiving one of a list of benefits or have a low income. For more information, read the Welsh Government’s guidance.
In Scotland, the Self-Isolation Support Grant may be available for lower paid workers who will lose income due to self-isolating, who test positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) or who must care for somebody who has tested positive. For more information, read the Scottish Government’s guidance.
If you are self-employed, you may be able to pay your income tax bill in instalments if you:
You can do this by setting up a payment plan online (known as the Time to Pay service).
If you have missed a payment date or cannot set up a payment plan online, you should call HMRC’s helpline on: 0800 024 1222.
The UK Government is no longer advising against foreign travel because of COVID-19.
However, if you are travelling abroad, you should check for all up-to-date travel guidance on the Government website. You should also contact your insurer and ensure that you are covered for your travel.
You must follow Government advice when returning to the UK.
Since 18 March 2022, you no longer need to complete a passenger locator form, take a COVID-19 before and/or after departure or quarantine on arrival.
For more information, read the Government’s guidance on Entering the UK.
Since 27 January 2022, face-coverings no longer need to be worn in most public indoor venues. However, some venues may encourage you to wear masks.
Check to see the mask policy of the business or venue you are entering; their terms and conditions should generally set out whether a mask is required and check for any signage indicating a mask policy.
Since 27 January 2022, businesses and events no longer need to check the COVID-19 status of workers and customers, using the NHS Covid Pass. However, some businesses may still ask you to prove your COVID-19 status before allowing you to enter the premises. Make sure to check whether a business or venue is checking NHS COVID Pass before entering (or booking an event), for example, by checking all relevant terms and conditions.