There are a myriad of options available to get advice and help during this unprecedented period.
UPDATE: Rent – the government have announced that they will bring forward emergency legislation to protect private renters from eviction. No details on how they are going to do this yet.
Focus so far during this period has mainly been on owners and operators, letting them know what help is out there. This is obviously vital as the more financial support they can get the longer they can keep paying you.
Even with this help it is unfortunately just a matter of time until the well runs dry for most hospitality employees and you are going to need outside help. We have looked at where you can turn for help:
First things first how can you get cold hard cash in your pockets.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – This really only applies if you get coronavirus and have to self-isolate. It is about £95 a week for two weeks. It is paid by your employer who will then claim it back off the government. More info here
Jobseekers Allowance – If you find yourself in the position of no job then the Jobseekers Allowance is there to help. You can apply online as soon as you are without a job and within 2 working days you will get a call to go and have an interview. It can take up to two weeks to get paid after signing up so if at all possible try to have some money in your bank to tide you over. More info and to apply can be found here (N.B. It has been reported in some areas that Universal Credit has replaced Job Seekers Allowance but the government has said you can potentially claim both so why not try)
Universal Credit – Is a benefit for people who are out of work. This isn’t one that everyone will get and the process takes a while but you will end up with a minimum of £251 a month (under 25) or £317 a month (over 25).
It will take up to 5 weeks to get your first payment after applying however you can apply for an advance on that first payment once accepted. There is also a strong rumour going around that the government are going to reduce that wait time to 7 days for anyone affected by the ‘coronavirus effect’ in the coming days. Either way get your application in sooner rather than later here
Due to the industry we work in most of us are lucky enough to work for and with people who respect us and don’t try to screw us over. If you think you are one of the unlucky ones there are plenty of people who can give you help.
First up a quick overview of what you are entitled to.
SSP – As discussed above if you are ill.
Forced Holiday – During this period your employer can force you to take any outstanding holiday you have. The trick is they have to give you twice the notice period compared to the time they want you to take off. So, if they want you to take a week off they have to give you 2 weeks notice.
Employment Contract – The rest is very much down to your employment contract, in there it will outline your rights specific to you.
In general, if you do have a conversation with your employer keep an open mind and try to understand they are in a tough situation as well. When this is over it is inevitable there will be less jobs going, don’t let them use this against you, you still have rights, but be aware the better you handle yourself now the better situation you will be in going forward.
If they turn into total Boris’ then you can turn to the lovely people we have listed at the end of the article.
Rent – Currently you don’t really have a leg to stand on I’m afraid. The current help from the government is for those with a mortgage (a 3 month mortgage payment ‘holiday’) however this currently does not apply to people with a buy-to-let mortgage so your landlord is probably not getting the break. There is a lot of pressure on the government to change this so hopefully there will be news on this in the coming days.
The Residential Landlords Association has advised its members to allow tenants to pay rent at a later date if they have a good payment history but this is very much advice, not binding.
Whilst you usually get 2 weeks notice before being kicked out if you don’t pay rent this is obviously not a course you want to go down, for starters they can keep that amount of your deposit so you won’t have enough to get another place. It is also worth bearing in mind however that the landlord will struggle to find a new tenant in the current climate.
The best advice if you see an issue on the horizon is to contact your landlord and have an honest conversation. Hopefully they will be understanding and help where they can. If this isn’t the case then people like the Citizens Advice Bureau (details below) are there to help.
Wellbeing – This is a very difficult and stressful time for all of us and is bound to have knock on effects in the area of mental health. There are numerous companies and websites that can offer advice and several are listed below if you find yourself feeling it.
It is vital to talk during this period, it is difficult when so many are self-isolating and our bar families are being broken up but luckily in this day and age we all have access to phones so use them. For those of us from the UK we, hopefully, have our family network close by to lean on, our colleagues from overseas aren’t that fortunate so it is worth keeping an extra eye on them and keeping in touch as much as possible.
Other jobs – If you do find yourself out of work there is a huge surge in jobs in other areas to tide you over until the world get backs to a semblance of normality. If you have a clean driving license then the world is your oyster as well as Amazon announcing they need 100,000 more staff, Deliveroo (etc) are desperate for staff as are all the supermarkets for their delivery services. No driving license? Amazon warehouses need people to pack the stuff up and the supermarkets need people to put the orders together in store.
This is shit. There is no way around it. The next few weeks and probably months are going to be tough but it is important to know you are not alone. From family, friends and colleagues to professional free advice, there is help out there. USE IT. Please.
We will be updating this article as and when things change with government announcements, but in the meantime below are a series of companies who are there to help and give advice financial, legal and personal. USE THEM. Please.
ACAS – Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service are a fantastic free service who particularly focus on workplace relations and employment law. They work closely with hospitality and have a slightly rubbish webpage on it here and a very useful advice line – 0300 123 1100
Drinks Trust who you may know as The Benevolent – A simply wonderful trade charity that supports our industry like no other. They are there for all advice and will cover pretty much anything you can through at them (and put you onto other people if they don’t have an answer for you). Give them a call on 0800 915 4610
Hospitality Action – Another fantastic trade charity looking after people in the hospitality industry. Once again they cover a large range of issues and will no doubt be right up to date with everything coronavirus related. There 24/7 helpline is 0808 802 0282
Licensed Trade Charity – A third trade charity and right now we need all that we can get. Once again full of useful free advice and helpline 0808 801 0550
Citizen’s Advice Bureau – For some reason has a bit of a fuddy duddy reputation but is still a hugely valuable resource with vast knowledge base and experience in dealing with all sorts of issues. Particularly useful for more general non-hospitality advice such as rent etc.
One more area that is very useful but often overlooked is that of a Trade Union. They are here for support all the time and it is there sort of lobbying power that is helping to force the government to support our industry. Unite The Union are a non-hospitality trade union and the biggest in the country however they do have a hospitality arm which is very active.