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To wonder how self employed people (& others) are meant to afford to self isolate?

(57 Posts)
AvocadosBeforeMortgages Tue 02-Jun-20 13:09:31

Apparently people who have been in contact with a confirmed case are being told to self isolate for 14 days, even when they've not got any symptoms. According to the NHS website, you can't get an at home testing kit unless you have symptoms, and even then you might not be prioritised.

Self employed people don't get paid if we don't work. Many of us have found ourselves effectively banned from working and then excluded from all forms of COVID-related financial support - for example, I can't get a penny because I went self employed last year (so no SEISS), don't have premises covered by SBRR (so no £10k grant), don't have any way of paying back a loan, and I've even been told that I qualify for £0 in Universal Credit (and even if it did, it wouldn't cover my most modest living expenses in a rough area of a cheap city). I'm also a private tenant - so no mortgage holiday; landlord insists on full rent. I've been through all the other schemes and I'm not eligible for any of those either. I'm dependent on the now-cancelled summer events season for my income for the entire year; there's very limited demand for my business in the winter months.

Now, apparently, even after lockdown lifts and I try to earn what little money I can in the last of the summer, I can be told to self isolate and not work for 14 days, with no word on how I'm meant to cover my additional losses, and with the knowledge that I could be told to self isolate repeatedly. I cannot afford to self isolate!

A sense of civic duty doesn't pay the rent or put food on the table.

OP’s posts: |
AnyFucker Tue 02-Jun-20 13:11:46

I believe many self employed people are asking their friends and family to remove their contact details from their phone

And saying to work colleagues, if you test positive you don't know me

Not recommending this course of action, naturally

Greysparkles Tue 02-Jun-20 13:13:20

It's complete bollox isn't it.

BarbaraofSeville Tue 02-Jun-20 13:21:30

It's tough for self employed people, and there's a lot of gaps, that's true.

But you'll only get a 'hit' through the track and trace system if you've spent 15 minutes closer than 2 metres from someone or any time face to face and closer than 1 metre. Not if you walk past someone in the supermarket or spend time a further distance away.

If you're properly social distancing, that won't happen other than with anyone you live with. So it sounds like you are worrying about something that shouldn't happen?

www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works

SandieCheeks Tue 02-Jun-20 13:24:59

I wouldn't be able to afford 14 days off so I'm being really careful not to get within 2m of anyone I really don't have to!

TabbyStar Tue 02-Jun-20 13:34:06

No idea. I fall through the net as well, it's crap.

mindutopia Tue 02-Jun-20 13:35:08

Not saying it isn't unfair, but I think the practical expectation is that you would need to build in contingency plans for the worst case scenario. Certainly many people can self isolate easily being self-employed and have been working from home for months now doing essentially that, particularly those who are shielding. Dh is self-employed. He could do some work (accounts, emails, planning, etc.) from home, but the bulk of his work isn't possible from home as requires specialist machinery. He's had to build in a buffer of working extra hard all these weeks to make sure there is money there that could be drawn on if he had to stop work entirely and lose clients if he needed to stay at home. It's extra complicated for us because if he has to self-isolate for 14 weeks, then I was to get ill, it would be probably a month before he could go back as he would have to carry the wait of all the childcare if I'm not able. It's hard, but if you have a successful business, hopefully you are able to put money away for these sorts of emergencies (or a bit like a 2 week holiday, which is also unpaid). What I really feel for are friends who are much more tenuously employed (I'm grateful I get paid by my employer no matter what I'm doing). If they don't work they won't get paid, but they're on really tenuous zero hours contracts and the like, where they can't even build up that savings to get them through a few weeks of being out of work.

PilatesPeach Tue 02-Jun-20 13:38:24

I'm a SE fitness instructor hoping to go back to teaching. As I understand it, even if I am over 2m away from anyone I am teaching in a class, it is the 15 mins that IS relevant and I would be told to self-isolate - one the medical experts was on the news the other day explaining that it is not both criteria that have to be met. Appreciate we are not yet back in gyms but quite concerned about when we are and having to be like a yoyo in and out all the time.

StatisticallyChallenged Tue 02-Jun-20 13:38:29

Loads of self employed people will be in this boat, as will those who only get ssp which might be a fraction of their normal income. Or if it's your child who gets caught up, in which case you have to take time off to be at home with them (assuming they'd have some form of school/childcare otherwise)

PilatesPeach Tue 02-Jun-20 13:57:52

Random but was just thinking about when we use the app in the future rather than the current manual process, you will have to hope that someone does not leave their phone near you even though they might be further away.

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Tue 02-Jun-20 14:10:16

Certainly many people can self isolate easily being self-employed and have been working from home for months now doing essentially that

Unfortunately, while I can do some business things from home, those aren't the bits that generate money! There's no point doing marketing if it then creates orders I can't fulfil, for instance. I've switched to doing deliveries (instead of weddings, festivals and suchlike) but the nature of my business means that the products cannot be posted, so I've had to do some DIY home deliveries (time consuming, lower gross profit margin, higher costs of petrol etc.)

In essence, if I don't leave the house I can't earn money.

It's hard, but if you have a successful business, hopefully you are able to put money away for these sorts of emergencies

That's a lovely idea in theory, except for those people who have
a) already lost their financial buffer to the lockdown measures
b) have only recently gone self employed so have been excluded from SEISS and probably haven't had a chance to build up a financial buffer in their business accounts.
c) businesses that are seasonal, earn sod all in winter, have low financial reserves at the start of summer, and need this summer season to earn their years' income, but have been prevented from working for a substantial proportion of the summer. Anyone involved in outdoor events is an excellent example of this.

Long story short, due to my domestic situation (flatshare), I'm not totally in control of who my household comes into contact with either.

OP’s posts: |
AlohaMolly Tue 02-Jun-20 14:18:25

OP, my DP will be in the same boat. At the moment he does qualify for the SE furlough scheme as he’s been running his own business for 15 years. His business involves providing outdoor activities to schools, families and individuals and uses the sea an awful lot, so, as such, is seasonal and largely tourism based.

One of his regular customers is a school that brings over 100 pupils for a week. If he had to self isolate and lose that business, we would sink, no question. If one of the pupils tests positive and the class has to self isolate do we lose our money? Etc

It’s very worrying and my job is tourism based too. I could probably make sure to isolate so I don’t trigger the need to self isolate due to being a contact for the summer, but the nature of DPs job means he can’t.

We aren’t too sure what to do tbh.

AlohaMolly Tue 02-Jun-20 14:19:06

Also, if I’m named as a contact and have to self isolate for 14 days, does the rest of my household?

WeAllHaveWings Tue 02-Jun-20 14:42:59

dh is self employed. Just starting back a some work this week, he wasn't eligible for any financial support either and we have lost thousands while in lockdown with work bills still to pay. We will continue to lose thousands while he does limited work.

To try to avoid being traced he is:
- will work in empty houses
- will work in a room in an occupied house if the occupier can guarantee he will have the room he is working in to himself and unimpeded access in and out of the house
- he has masks and gel and will use regularly
- he is peeing in a bucket in the back of the van 🤦‍♀️and only taking jobs local to home or his workshop so he can come back home if he needs to for a "comfort" break

Outside of work we are making sure we keep to social distancing as much as possible.

Hopefully with those precautions he will be near enough to anyone to be asked to isolate, but if he was asked he would do it.

Squirrellamp Tue 02-Jun-20 14:47:49

So what if all my colleagues leave their phones in lockers next to each other?

AlohaMolly Tue 02-Jun-20 14:52:03

Hang on, did I read that it can be either 2m apart OR 15 minutes in someone’s presence? Can someone link me?

BarbaraofSeville Tue 02-Jun-20 14:54:33

Surely the system can cope with people not necessarily having their phone on their person at all times?

Where someone's phone is isn't a concrete indication of where they are. If your phone was in a locker near someone else's phone, you should have an idea of the movements of that person as you will be in the same workplace.

So if 'Bob' has symptons but you work in different departments and you haven't actually clapped eyes on 'Bob' for weeks, just that both your phones were in the same locker room at the same time, that's not going to compel you to self isolate.

bumblingbovine49 Tue 02-Jun-20 14:56:51

@AlohaMolly Also, if I’m named as a contact and have to self isolate for 14 days, does the rest of my household?

Only if you develop symptoms. If you are isolating without symptoms because you are waiting to see if you are incubating the illness then they don't have to self-isolate as well.

If you go on to develop symptoms than yes they will need to start a 14 day isolation as well unless you test negative in which case they don't have to but you would need to finish the 14 days whether you develop symptoms or not.

If you do develop symptoms then you need to isolate for a minimum of 7 days from when the symptoms start. That could mean you end up isolating for 3 weeks if you get ill and develop symptoms late in the 14 week period (assuming you get mildly ill). If you get seriously ill then you might be off for many weeks but then you would have bigger problems than how to pay for staying off work.

BarbaraofSeville Tue 02-Jun-20 14:58:32

The link I posted above gives the following criteria for close contact that would require self isolation:

Close contact means:

having face-to-face contact with someone (less than 1 metre away)

spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of someone

travelling in a car or other small vehicle with someone (even on a short journey) or close to them on a plane

if you work in – or have recently visited – a setting with other people (for example, a GP surgery, a school or a workplace)

Seems pretty clear that it has to be under 2 m and more than 15 mins, which makes sense, otherwise, you'd have to isolate if someone else in the supermarket queue who was 5 metres away from you while you both queued up for 20 minutes developed symptoms. The risk of catching it from them in that situation must be almost zero.

Norabird Tue 02-Jun-20 15:02:36

This is why it won't work, isn't it? In a choice between being able to afford to live and following the instructions it's obvious which will win. Much like the care workers who don't get paid if they don't work. I think in your position I'd be looking for employment, even if in reality you only plan to be employed to see you through this. There is no obvious way this can end any time soon so that will be a huge amount of stress and pressure if you can't work from home.

stardance Tue 02-Jun-20 15:05:20

So what if all my colleagues leave their phones in lockers next to each other?

I wondered this too. We're not allowed to have our phones on us at work, they have to be put in our lockers. So I assume that if one person gets the virus we'll all have to self isolate even though we've potentially been nowhere near each other as we work from 8 different rooms across the building.

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Tue 02-Jun-20 15:07:10

The app isn't part of contact tracing, unless you live on the Isle of Wight (where presumably it isn't doing the trick, as it hasn't been rolled out further.

What happens is that if Ann tests positive, she tells a call centre she's been in close contact with Bob, Cathy and Dave. B, C and D are all told to self isolate, but aren't told who had a positive test result.

Unfortunately Ann might also claim to name self employed neighbour Edward because of a long running dispute over wheelie bins (even though they've been avoiding each other for months), or get a bit confused and say she's seen her nephew Fred (zero hours contract, no sick pay) face to face, even though they only saw each others faces over Zoom.

Edward and Fred would also be told to self isolate, but would have no way of telling that the report was malicious or mistaken, but would still be ordered to lose a fortnight of income.

OP’s posts: |
Scotinengland76 Tue 02-Jun-20 15:07:36

Greysparkles

It's complete bollox isn't it.

So you want this virus around forever? Do you not want back to normality? This is to stop all the country having a second lockdown. I can’t believe the number of people who won’t comply. It’s voluntary now, do you want it mandatory? Because that’s exactly what’ll happen.

BarbaraofSeville Tue 02-Jun-20 15:13:53

Edward and Fred would also be told to self isolate, but would have no way of telling that the report was malicious or mistaken, but would still be ordered to lose a fortnight of income

Well if there's a mistake like that, you speak up and sort it out. If you blindly obey the rules based on other people's lies and mistakes, more fool you.

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Tue 02-Jun-20 15:17:44

Norabird

This is why it won't work, isn't it? In a choice between being able to afford to live and following the instructions it's obvious which will win. Much like the care workers who don't get paid if they don't work. I think in your position I'd be looking for employment, even if in reality you only plan to be employed to see you through this. There is no obvious way this can end any time soon so that will be a huge amount of stress and pressure if you can't work from home.

The self isolation offer could happen during a time when I have self employed work lined up, which I'm told to cancel in favour of self isolation.

Weirdly, no employer is going to take on someone who has just been told not to leave the house for a fortnight.

OP’s posts: |

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