Coronavirus outbreak: What are your work, travel, and childcare rights?

The new coronavirus, or Covid-19, has become a global issue with countries around the world feeling the affects of the outbreak.

In the UK the number of confirmed cases now stands in the hundreds.

The effects of the virus are reaching every corner of every day life, disrupting travel plans, closing schools and forcing the cancellation of events - although it is arguably having the biggest impact on our working lives.

If you have been affected by the fallout of the outbreak, what are your travel, work, or childcare rights?

  • What are my rights as a traveller?

For those booked to travel overseas, traveller rights depends on the latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice.

Which? Travel Editor Rory Boland told ITV News "everything from your flight booking to your hotel to your travel insurance really depends on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office".

Britons are being warned againstall but essential travel for 30 days from March 17, with the FCO advising disrupted travellers to contact their airlines, travel agency, and insurance provider.

An Italian Finance Police officer stops cars trying to enter or leave the cordoned area in Codogno, Italy. Credit: AP

Britons travelling in the period that the FCO has advised against should be eligible for refunds.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the advice would be "subject to further review".

Not wishing to travel is not covered by most travel insurance companies.

Which? Travel Editor Mr Boland said those who have made bookings but no longer wish to travel should try and contact their travel provider and "see if there is any flexibility".

The Government has introduced advanced monitoring at airports with direct flights from China. Credit: PA

The Teacher's Union, NASUWT, said it was aware of advice being given to schools that teachers travelling to the affected areas who subsequently are required to self-isolate should not be paid for this period.

The group said this guidance is "unacceptable" and would likely result in individuals who should be self-isolating attending work and potentially spreading the infection.

  • Could Brexit affect my travel rights?

Under European Union legislation, air passengers have guaranteed rights for delays and cancelled flights that depart from an EU airport - regardless of their citizenship.

These are enshrined in law for flights departing UK airports until the end of the Brexit transition period, which ends at the end of 2020.

As coronavirus is classified as "extraordinary circumstances" under the legislation, however, compensation for cancelled flights is not due.

Customers should instead seek a full refund, Which? says.

Tourists wearing face masks take pictures inside the Duomo gothic cathedral as it reopened to the public after being closed due to the virus outbreak in Milan. Credit: AP
  • What are my rights as a worker?

People returning from areas which have had an outbreak of coronavirus, or who might have had contact with a person who has the virus, have been advised to self-isolate.

Public Health England guidance recommends a 14-day self-isolation period and says workers should discuss with their employer "the importance of self-isolation to reduce the risk of spreading infection at work."

The government updated its legislation on sick pay with regards to the coronavirus on 4 March - entitling workers to sick pay from the first day they are off work.

The Department for Work and Pensions says employers "have been urged" to use "discretion and respect" when making decisions about sick pay for people in self-isolation.

It added: "Anyone not eligible to receive sick pay is able to claim Universal Credit and/or contributory Employment and Support Allowance."

The same advice was given to employees having to take time off work in order to care for a dependent who may need to self-isolate.

Tourists wear face masks outside the gates of Buckingham Palace in London. Credit: AP

Independent body the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) says "usual sick leave and pay entitlements apply" to somebody who has contracted coronavirus.

It added that employers might need to make allowances where a sick note is required for more than seven days off work - an individual in self-isolation will not be able to obtain evidence from their GP.

In March's Budget, chancellor Rishi Sunak said statutory sick pay would be available for "all those who are advised to self-isolate" even if they have not displayed symptoms

Guests from a quarantined hotel in Tenerife are screened by medical staff. Credit: AP

Employment lawyer, Karen Baxter told ITV News it's a question of "are you able to do any work at all?" so if working from home, you should be "treated as working as normal".

For those unable to work from home but still "ready, willing, and able," Ms Baxter said you're effectively "staying home on your employer's instruction" and so entitled to be paid.

Very few UK businesses have so far chosen to impose restrictions - US oil giant Chevron shut its London office in Canary Wharf as a precaution, while the London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) said its employees face travel restrictions to some countries but refused to say where.

A man in protective clothing cleans the County Oak Medical Centre GP practice in Brighton which was temporarily closed over virus fears. Credit: PA

Ms Baxter said that freelancers and those working in the gig economy are in a "much more vulnerable position" as they are not entitled to sick pay.

"The reality is, it's a very difficult situation - there are few rights available to them".

  • What are your rights if you're claiming benefits?

Citizens Advice says those claiming benefits should still go the their usual appointments or risk not getting the money they're entitled to.

It adds if individuals are ill and cannot attend the appointment, they should phone the office responsible for paying the benefit and explain the reason for absence.

The group says those on Universal Credit should use their "online journal" to explain why they cannot attend an appointment.

A number of schools around the UK have implemented closures following the coronavirus outbreak. Credit: PA / ITV News / Google streetview
  • What are my rights as a parent?

As the UK reacts to the coronavirus outbreak, a number of schools across the country closed to staff and students while others asked individuals to self-isolate.

This has so far been on a case-by-case basis as government guidance to educators remains that "there is no need to close... or send other learners or staff home".

There is currently little guidance for parents whose children are off school due to the outbreak or parents who want to keep their children at home over virus fears.

Public Health England (PHE) says the issue would be for the Department for Education to deal with, who in turn say all coronavirus advice and guidance is being issued by PHE.

It is unclear if parents could face prosecution for keeping their children off school when the education establishment has not requested they do so.

Acas says employees are "entitled to time off work... in an unexpected event or emergency" - this includes parents whose child might be sick with the coronavirus or whose school has closed.

The group says there is no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.

Citizens Advice echoes that guidance, it says parents should speak to their employer if they need to take time off work to look after children.

The charity Parentkind, which works to ensure parents and schools work together effectively, says it is important that "lines of communication are clear and open" between parties over the outbreak.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know: