Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): £500 payment for health and social care staff - questions and answers

Answers to frequently asked questions by health and social care staff following the announcement of a £500 payment for staff, by the First Minister on 30 November 2020.

Published:
23 Dec 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19): £500 payment for health and social care staff - questions and answers

Q. The payment is “pro-rata”.  What does that mean?

It means that full time staff will receive the full £500 and staff who work part-time will receive a proportion of the full amount based on the amount of time they have worked. So someone who works 50% of full time hours would receive £250, for instance. 

Q. The payment is “non-consolidated”. What does that mean?

Non-consolidated means it is not pensionable and does not create a new baseline for future pay calculations.

Q. Will I pay tax on the payment?

The ability to exempt the payment from tax is not within the current powers of the Scottish Government.

Q. I receive Universal Credit. Will my Universal Credit be reduced if I receive the payment?

  • the ability to exempt the payment from benefit calculations is not within the current powers of the Scottish Government
  • recipients who are in receipt of Universal Credit would need to notify their work coach of the change in their circumstances in order to avoid any overpayments which may result in issues with their claim
  • NHS Scotland employees will be given the option to take the payment in instalments over three months, so as to minimise impact on your Universal Credit award. Social care employers will also be asked to give staff this option.

Q. Will my Council Tax Reduction be reduced if I receive the £500 payment?

No, this payment will be fully disregarded in the calculation of Council Tax Reduction.

Scottish Government officials are currently exploring the best way to make relevant people aware of the need to tell their local authority about this payment if they are also getting a reduction under the Council Tax Reduction scheme. This may include a message on NHS payslips and other methods.

Q. I do not want this payment. Can I opt out?

Scottish Government Ministers wish to recognise the extraordinary effort that front line NHS and social care staff have made to our national effort during the pandemic. While there is no mechanism for opting out of this payment, all recipients are free to do with it what they wish, including donating to charitable causes. 

NHS Scotland

Q. Who is eligible for the payment?

The following employees are eligible for the payment:

  • staff who have been active in the NHS for a minimum of one month between 17 March and 30 November 2020, but who have since left NHS employment, including retirees and staff on honorary contracts
  • staff who accepted and worked on temporary contracts for a minimum of one month between 17 March and 30 November 2020 to aid pandemic response but who have since left NHS employment, including students who worked under temporary contracts but who have since returned to University
  • students who worked on temporary paid contracts during the pandemic for a period of at least one month during the qualifying period, and have since returned to university, will receive the payment. This includes Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professional students who undertook paid placements over the Summer.
  • staff covered by the Two Tier Agreement
  • NHS bank and locum staff active since 17 March

Agency workers are not eligible.

Clinical students on unpaid placements within health and social care are not eligible.

Q. Are those on sick or maternity leave, or staff who were shielding, eligible?

Yes, eligible staff who, between 17 March and 30 November 2020 were shielding or were on sickness or maternity leave, will receive the payment.

Q. I work part-time, but there were times during the pandemic when I worked overtime, for more than full time hours. How much money will I receive?

Staff working excess hours will receive the payment pro-rata according to an average of the hours worked over the qualifying period, or over the time worked during the qualifying period. The payment will be capped at £500 for those who, on average, worked more than their full time equivalent. The full time equivalent is 37.5 hours for AfC staff and 40 hours for medical staff.

Q. How will I receive the payment?

The payment will be distributed through NHS Board’s Payroll Departments in staff salary payments. Those who have left NHS employment will be contacted in due course. 

Q. When will the payment be made?

We are committed to making the payment as soon as possible in this financial year. It may take longer to make the payment to those who have retired or left NHS employment. Those payments will be made a soon as practically possible.

Independent contractors for the NHS

Q. Are people who work as or for independent contractors, in the NHS, eligible?

Yes, the following workforce groups are all eligible:

  • General Practitioners and their practice teams, including those in 2C practices
  • NHS Dentists and dental teams, including administrative staff and practice managers
  • Community Pharmacists and the pharmacy teams
  • Community optometrists and their optometry practice teams

Q. How will pro-rata payments be calculated for those groups?

Independent contractors will be asked to declare the Whole Time Equivalence of their partners and all staff so that pro-rated calculations can be made. Pro-rated means that full time staff will receive the full £500 and staff who work part-time will receive a proportion of the full amount based on the amount of time they work. So someone who works 50% of full time hours would receive £250, for instance. 

Q. How will these groups be paid?

The bonus will be distributed through independent contractors to their partners and staff.

Social care

Q. Who is eligible for the £500 payment?

Staff employed in adult social care or children’s residential care who have been active for a minimum of one month between 17 March and 30 November 2020 will be eligible for the payment, including those who have since left or retired.

This includes those employed to work:

  • in one of the following registered adult social care services (including ancillary, catering, office and cleaning staff):
  • care home
  • housing support
  • care at home
  • day care
  • palliative care/hospice
  • by a third or independent sector provider in an administrative or head office role supporting one or more registered adult social care service
  • as a personal assistant directly by the person you support or their family (personal assistants for adults only)
  • in a registered residential child care setting (including ancillary, catering, office and cleaning staff)
  • as a registered social worker (including social work assistants, other qualified fieldwork staff) (including those working with children and families and in criminal justice)
  • by a local authority within a Health and Social Care Partnership structure supporting adult social care
  • by a local authority and were redeployed to work in a registered social care service

Agency workers, self-employed or unpaid carers are not eligible.

Q. Are those on sick or maternity leave, or staff who were shielding, eligible?

Yes, eligible staff who, between 17 March and 30 November 2020 were shielding or were on sickness or maternity leave, will receive the payment.

Q. I work in social care on a zero hours or flexible contract. Will I receive the payment?

Staff must be part of the paid workforce. They can be:

  • full-time or part-time
  • subject to a zero hours or flexible employment contract
  • subject to a permanent or temporary contract

You will receive a pro rata payment based on the hours that you have worked.

Q. I work in the private sector. Will I receive the payment?

This payment is for staff employed in adult social care in the statutory (local authority or health board), third and private sectors, and personal assistants who are employed directly by the person they support or their family.

Q. I work for two social care providers. Will I get the payment twice?

You will be entitled to a pro rata payment from each employer capped at £500 in total.

Q. I work in social care, how will I receive the £500 payment?

Your employer will make the payment to you through your normal payroll. They may ask you for information to assist with this.

Q. I work in social care, when will the payment be made?

There are approximately 170,000 people working for 1,200 employers, plus personal assistants in adult social care. Whilst this means some complexity, we are working urgently with partners to ensure more detailed guidance and payment arrangements are in place as soon as possible. We expect the majority of payments to be made in March.

Q. I am a social care employer. How will I receive the payment?

Details for how you can claim for your staff and how payments will be made to employers will be available shortly. Funds will be available in advance of employers making the payments to their staff.

Q. I am a social care employer. How do I work out the pro-rata calculation?

More detailed guidance will be provided.

Q. Will hospice staff be eligible for the £500 payment?

Yes. Hospice staff will be eligible to receive the payment.

Q. What is the mechanism for allocating this funding to hospices?

A process for delivering this funding to hospice staff is being put in place. However the intention is to make payments to staff before the end of the financial year.

Other public sector workers and key workers

Q. Are other public sector workers who helped with the COVID-19 effort eligible for the payment?

This payment is for NHS and social care staff. While the UK Government announced a public sector pay freeze for 2021/22, Scottish Ministers will publish their public sector pay policy for 2021/22 in January and this will recognise the commitment and hard work of the public sector workforce across Scotland.