What were your New Year’s resolutions for 2020?
If you wanted to boost your career or launch your first businesses, chances are that COVID-19 has transformed your plans. For many companies, the pandemic has changed not only the office routine but also the growth potential. As such, employees are facing uncertainty regarding their future. However, it doesn’t mean you should abandon all plans to improve your professional situation. Here is some inspiration to get you started and help you answer some of the most pressing questions about your job under lockdown.
#1. Do you need me in the office?
A lot of companies are trying to find new ways of supporting their customers. The increased need for safe distancing and health and safety procedures is encouraging companies to reconsider their work arrangements. As a result, now’s the best time to discuss remote work options. If your role can be fulfilled safely and smoothly from a home office, you’ve got a good argument to present to your boss. More and more employees are embracing the challenges of working from home. While it does mean making crucial arrangements, such as managing kids and work-life at the same time and clearing out a decent space for your video meetings, the remote routine can protect your income.
#2. What protection is offered?
Unfortunately, not all positions are available as remote jobs. Essential on-site duties, such as post delivery, garbage collection, and shop assistance, need to provide additional safety. Indeed, if you commute to the office or your workplace every day, you should expect adequate protective gear. Some shops, for instance, have introduced a plexiglass window protecting their cashiers. Postal delivery teams should be provided with a mask and gloves to avoid risk during door-to-door contacts. Similarly, office-based employees should also expect new social distancing and safety regulations. As an employee, you can refuse to work on-site if your company can’t offer any protective gear.
#3. Do I get paid in furlough?
If your role was not deemed essential or sustainable during the pandemic crisis, you might find yourself out of work. Millions of jobs have been furloughed during the crisis. If this is your case, you are guaranteed to receive a source of income during the lockdown. Being furloughed doesn’t affect your job safety. You are still employed by the same company and paid a portion of your wages. The government guarantees that furloughed employees will receive 80% of their wages. Your company can choose to cover the remaining 20% if they can afford to do so.
#4. Can my boss fire me?
While COVID-19 is a crisis like nothing else we’ve faced before, it doesn’t cancel your employee’s rights. As a result, a company that uses the pandemic as an excuse to dismiss you indefinitely will face legal charges. Small businesses that can’t operate remotely can, temporarily, lay off their employees for the duration of the crisis. While you’re off work, you can look for other temporary opportunities. However, once the crisis is over, your company can’t defer severance costs if you are not re-employed. Additionally, firing people on the basis that they were infected by the virus violates your human rights. COVID-19 is no cause for termination, which means that the business will need to cover a severance pay as soon as the operations are back to normal.
#5. Is it time to change careers?
If you find yourself stuck at home with plenty of extra time, you may want to consider upgrading your career chances. For instance, furloughed individuals or those who are between jobs can turn to remote studies to boost their skills. If you’ve always wanted to progress in the hierarchy, it’s a good idea to tackle career choices that will be in demand after the crisis, such as business analysts who can help with post-COVID growth. You can read more about the necessary skills to become a business analyst. Another career idea that will be in demand after the crisis is financial and accounting advisor, as many companies will need a strategy to recover losses.
#6. Can I find a job during COVID?
If you’re between jobs or you’ve been laid off by your former employer, the situation may not be as desperate as you think. Indeed, while now’s not the best time to move your career to the next office, you can, however, find temporary employment. Thinking short-term solutions means you’ve got more choices. In fact, during the crisis, no one is going to complain about finding helpers outside of their field of expertise. You could support your local healthcare centre if you’ve got event management or coordination skills. IT experts can provide support to small companies, as many as struggling to move their assets online safely. Similarly, the demand for fruit and veg pickers is huge in the UK, and it’s an essential job to bring food to the shops.
#7. Can I start a business?
While you may not be able to launch a brand new business and hit the ground running, you can consider spreading your income through a variety of side hustles and extra-professional activities. Most side hustles require an online presence, which you can build via WordPress or another web creation platform. You can choose to share your skills and experience through niche blogging, for instance, which can become a lucrative option if you join an affiliate marketing network. If you’ve got a story to tell, why not publish your first book online or start a podcasting programme?
#8. Do I get paid leave if I get sick?
The most challenging element about the coronavirus pandemic is the high spread rate. COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus, which means that people who couldn’t use protective gear are likely to be exposed and vulnerable to infection. If this is the case, you may be on sick leave for several weeks. Even the minor cases require rest for two to three weeks. The most extreme cases are rushed to hospital for ventilation support. While you’re off-work, you may be worried about your sick pay. Companies still continue to provide sick pay leaves to their employees. Governmental support is also offered to ensure businesses can provide paid leaves to their team.
#9. Do I have to pay for my Zoom equipment?
You can’t work online nowadays without coming across Zoom meetings or any other video chat platform. For employees who are working from home for the first, video chats can come at a high cost. Indeed, you will need a working webcam, a microphone, and, of course, a desktop computer or a laptop. While most employees are provided with a laptop as part of their day-to-day job in the office, it isn’t always the case. What happens if you don’t have personal devices that let you work from home? The purchase of a webcam, for instance, if it is related to your job should be covered by your employer. Some employers have even chosen to purchase and deliver home office equipment to their staff.
#10. What happens to my additional job costs?
If you are an independent expert or your employer refuses to cover your professional costs to set up a home office, you should keep all invoices. Indeed, job-related expenses can be deducted from your taxes. Freelancers, self-employed professionals and entrepreneurs are already familiar with self-assessment return taxes, which can be filled online in April 2021 for all expenses occurring after April 5th 2020. Expenses that occurred before this deadline can be filled under the current tax period.
Navigating a job crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic can be challenging. However, don’t rush into potentially risky decisions. Do your research to protect your income and your professional future. In the meantime, staying safe is a priority. Look after your health and your family’s while managing the troubled waters of employment under lockdown.