Coronavirus

FAQs

Please refer to the University’s new webpages on working remotely.   

For questions around workstation (DSE) guidance, please refer to our new guidance.

Can I claim for any of the costs for working at home during the Covid-19 crisis?

If you are required to work from home, you are able to claim tax relief from HMRC.

You can claim this tax relief for some of the bills you have to pay because you have to work at home on a regular basis.

Once the Covid-19 crisis ends, you will not be able to continue to claim tax relief if you choose to work from home.

In Oct 2020, HMRC changed the system to allow you to claim for the whole year. For this tax year only, you only need to claim once, and you automatically get it claimed for all of this tax year at the £6/week relief rate.

What can I claim for?

You can only claim for things to do with your work, for example, business telephone calls or the extra cost of gas and electricity.

You cannot claim for things that you use for both private and business use, for example, rent or broadband access.

If a couple both work from home, can they both claim it?

The working-from-home tax relief is an individual benefit. If you have had an increase in costs because you are required to work from home, you can claim it. If two or more of you live in the same property, you are all required to work from home and costs have increased specifically from each individual working from home, you can all claim.

How much can I claim?

For most people the additional cost will be gas and electricity, yet apportioning these costs is tough. So instead you can, simply, claim at a standard rate. This is £6 a week (£26 a month) from 6 April 2020 and £4 a week (£18 a month) before 6 April 2020.

The impact of a £6 per week claim is the tax savings. It is a gain of £1.20 per week (about £62 per year) for basic 20% rate taxpayers (and higher for 40% rate taxpayers).

If you believe you have higher increased costs then you can claim more, but you will need evidence of the cost increases.

How do I claim the tax relief?

If you normally do a self-assessment form, you can claim on it.

If you do not, you can use the new HMRC dedicated working-from-home microservice that will automatically apply the whole 2020/21 tax year's relief via your tax code – making claiming the whole amount very easy. Anyone making a claim for this tax year, who hasn't already put in a claim, can use it.

You'll need to have your Government Gateway ID to do it. If you don't have one, you can create one as part of the process.

Your tax code will likely be adjusted so that you pay less tax over the year, as opposed to you getting a direct refund.

You will need to include your employer’s PAYE Tax Office reference number.

The key section for filling in is titled 'Using your home as an office' (pictured below). Assuming you're not eligible for tax relief on other work-related expenses then leave them blank.

 

Screenshot of part of the claiming tax relief form from the GOV.AC.UK website.

In the online form, there are two boxes:

  • 'Amount paid by you.' HMRC has confirmed to us that provided you've had increased costs and had to work at home at some point since 6 April 2020, then put in £312 – the maximum amount, equivalent to £6/wk for 52 weeks. You won't need to show receipts. Even if you've already claimed for any amount, you still need to put the full £312 amount here.
  • 'Amount paid to you by your employer.' If your employer hasn't paid you a working from home allowance or reimbursed your homeworking expenses, just put £0.In the online form, there are two boxes:

(If you're claiming for the prior tax year, instead only put the amount that relates to the number of weeks worked.)

How can we record absence due to Covid-19 or absence due to symptoms of Covid-19? 

MyHR has been updated to enable sickness absence for Coronavirus to be recorded against the Sickness Reason Code ‘COVID19’ and then categorised as ‘Confirmed’ or ‘Unconfirmed / Displaying Symptoms’.  

  • ‘Confirmed’ should be used where a member of staff has tested positive for COVID19 and is off sick as a result. 
  • ‘Unconfirmed / Displaying Symptoms’ should be used where a member of staff is off sick as a result of symptoms of COVID19 but has not been tested to confirm.  

In either case, please also email staffhealth@qmul.ac.uk to notify them of this absence.  

Also, please notify staffhealth@qmul.ac.uk if a member of staff is self-isolating, even if symptoms are mild and they are working as normal and not ‘off sick’. 

Sickness absence for reasons unrelated to Covid-19, should continue to be managed in the normal way, including the line manager recording the absence on MyHR

Will absence due to self-isolation or coronavirus trigger a sickness absence review? 

No. 

Absence due to self-isolation or coronavirus will be excluded from sickness absence triggers. Please see the Attendance Policy for further details. 

What is the process for reporting non-attendance due to coronavirus? 

If you need to self-isolate due to coronavirus, let your line manager know and also email staffhealth@qmul.ac.uk

If you do not have symptoms, your absence will be treated as special paid leave.

If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, your absence will be treated as sickness absence and the University’s standard sickness absence reporting procedure will apply. Please see the Attendance Policy for further details. You should follow the Public Health England guidance for self-isolating at home. 

What should I do if a staff member tests positive for Covid-19 but is well enough to work remotely from home?

If a staff member does test positive for Covid-19 then do ensure that they monitor their symptoms, there is no pressure for them to continue working from home. It is for them to decide, based on self-assessment, whether they are well enough to work or not.

QM are recording active, confirmed cases amongst their UK based staff and student population and these figures are reported on a daily basis. Staff should notify staffhealth@qmul.ac.uk if they test positive for Covid-19 and state their symptoms are mild, that they are still able to work as normal and they are not off sick. In the event that their symptoms escalate they will need to inform their line manager and report this as sickness absence.

I am pregnant. When should I inform my line manager?

We recommend that staff who become pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic inform their line manager as soon as they become aware that they are pregnant to ensure a risk assessment is completely as soon as possible.

Should I arrange a risk assessment?

Expectant mothers at all stages of pregnancy are regarded as being at risk.  All pregnant staff should therefore complete a risk assessment.  This is sent to the occupational health service who will assess to ensure sufficient systems are put in place to protect the pregnant staff member.  OH will then contact the staff member if required.

Should I continue to attend regular antenatal appointments?

Yes, the NHS advise that provided you are well it is important to attend all routine appointments.  If you do feel unwell, you are advised to consult your community midwife in order to postpone your visits for the time being.

I am a clinical member of staff. Is there anything else I need to consider?

Pregnant staff who are employed on a clinical basis are advised to consult specific guidance developed by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Midwives and Faculty of Occupational Medicine, which will be especially helpful to expectant mothers where the following circumstances apply:

  • Clinical staff at the pre-28 weeks stage concerned about working in patient centred roles;
  • Clinical staff at the pre-28 weeks stage who opt to continue providing patient centred care, and
  • Clinical staff at the post-28 weeks stage with long term health conditions.

Where can I get further information?

In addition to the guidance referred to above, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have also developed a set of frequently asked questions covering all aspects of coronavirus and pregnancy. 

Further information is also available via the World Health Organisation’s guidance.  More general advice on coronavirus and pregnancy can be accessed via the NHS website.