Coronavirus update for Freelancers

Since 31 December 2019 the Coronavirus outbreak (a pneumonia like virus) has been gradually increasing. During this period, please be assured that we are following public health guidelines.

Information around the coronavirus (Covid-19) is changing regularly, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest position. Additional information can be found on the influenza and disease sections of the BBC Safety website and also on the World Health Organisation website

If you are feeling unwell and presenting with symptoms of Coronavirus, please self-isolate and call NHS 111 or your local medical provider immediately ensuring that you mention you have been in a risk area or in contact with someone from a risk area.

To help reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infections, while travelling in, or from, an affected area you should:

  • Avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections
  • Maintain frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment
  • Avoid close contact with live or dead farm or wild animals

Travellers with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands)

If you are feeling unwell, and/or have any upper respiratory symptoms, you should call NHS 111 (or your local medical provider) immediately, ensuring that you mention you have been in a risk area or in contact with someone from a risk area (the latest risk areas can be found on the Public Health for England website)

I'm engaged on a freelance basis – will I receive sick pay if I have to take time off?

Workers (sometimes known as Casuals) have tax and NI deducted at source and are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay.

Self-Employed Freelancers who are paid without any deductions (Gross Paid) are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay or other benefits.

Your contract will detail the type of engagement you are on – if you do not have access to this, please contact the Contingent Workforce Team who can help.

Supporting you through this challenging period

The BBC, along with other Public Service Broadcasters, contacted the UK Chancellor to ask the Government to support our critically important freelance community.

The majority of our freelancers are fully occupied supporting our continuing output and their jobs are not at risk as a result of Covid-19.

However, unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus, we have had to postpone or cancel some productions. We know that is creating insecurity and anxiety and our first priority is to try and redeploy our people where we can, recognising that is not always possible.

We have developed an extensive list of FAQs (see the links to the left-hand side) to support you during this time. 

What support is currently available?

Following on from the support announced by the Government, we are also putting in place a series of measures that provide support to our freelance workforce, both PAYE and Self-Employed. The measures we are offering will provide:

  • Income protection against any loss of work due to Covid-19 – this wouldn’t apply to contracts that end for other reasons
  • Sick pay cover
  • Wellbeing support

What it means for each group - PAYE or self-employed

As we engage people differently, these measures will apply in different ways depending on the types of engagement.

The Government has provided two schemes, one for PAYE workers and one for the self-employed to ensure that people in each of these groups can access up to 80% of their earnings up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months.

The schemes are similar but are accessed in different ways. As the schemes were only announced recently, we are seeking clarity on some of the details.

If you are a PAYE freelancer and joined the BBC before 28th February

  • With funding support from the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the BBC plans to pay either 100% of your pay or £3,000 per month for the remaining period of your contract up to a maximum of 3 months – whatever is the lesser amount. This will be effective from the 1st March 2020.
  • You are entitled to claim Statutory Sick Pay if you are ill and we will top this up to 2 weeks full pay if you are sick while engaged to work for us.
  • By the end of next week we will also provide additional support with access to our Employee Assistance Programme which offers a range of support including telephone advice, counselling sessions and access to our remote GP services.

If you are a self-employed freelancer (paid Gross pay without deductions for tax and NI)

  • Yesterday, the Chancellor announced an income support scheme for the self-employed. If you are eligible you will receive a cash grant worth 80% of your average monthly trading profit over the last three years for the three month period from 1st March. This will be paid to you on application through HMRC.
  • We are expecting details of how this scheme will operate in the next few days. We will publish this for you as soon as we have it and we are exploring the ways that we will be able to supplement this scheme.

Next steps

We hope the proposals we have set out will help support you at this difficult time. They are complex and the mechanism for accessing payments is in the process of being developed. We are also waiting for more guidance from the Government about how their income support schemes will operate.

We will continue working on the detail and get back to you as soon as possible.

FAQs - PAYE freelancers

FAQs - self-employed freelancers