Guidance and information for self-employed social workers during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemnic.

Practicing social work during the Coronavirus pandemic presents a number of challenges to the profession. The self-employed workforce are faced with additional pressures and risks in a time when the context and information is changing daily. 

This page is live where we hope to keep individuals informed of current developments. Please bookmark and return regularly. 

A message for independent BASW members by Gerry Nosowska - BASW Chair and Independent social worker

Guidance and information for self-employed social workers

BASW's commitment to the safety and effective practice of social workers 

Find out more on the actions BASW is taking to ensure the safety of the workforce. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Insurance information for Independents

The recent Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has created unprecedented circumstances introducing new challenges and risks for independent social workers. This has implications on insurance cover and practice. 

Find out more (log-in required)

*NEW* Covid-19 Vaccinations

Social work colleagues are now beginning to successfully access the Covid-19 vaccination programme through their employers.

Whilst some self-employed and locum social workers have also successfully booked and/or received a vaccination, many are reporting challenges in accessing the vaccine despite their contracted services still requiring in person meetings.

The distribution of the vaccine is predominantly managed by various local health services and this is creating inconsistent experiences. As a fast-moving situation including the expanding vaccination hub services, BASW Independents are monitoring closely to support members who require the vaccine as part of the services they offer.

Members have fed back to BASW that they have independently sourced a vaccine by contacting their GP and confirming their frontline social care worker status.

To help monitor the situation and update our advice to the wider membership in this ever-changing situation, we are welcoming self-employed social workers and locums to get in touch with their experiences in both successfully and unsuccessfully accessing the vaccine.

Share your experience with the Covid-19 vaccination programme 

Read Covid-19 and Vaccination: a BASW position statement

NHS England Vaccinating frontline social care workers published 14 January 2021

Essential worker coronavirus (COVID-19) test

Essential workers are encouraged to apply for a test within the first three days from when symptoms begin. 

Find out more & request a test

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The government has extended income protection schemes to self-employed workers paying grants of 80% of their sole trader profits up to £2500/ month.

2 November - The Government confirmed a third payment for self-employed people will be allocated based on 80% of average trading profits. 

  • Payments will be based on your tax records over the past 3 years
  • If also employed, your self-employed income make up at least 50% of your total income
  • You may continue working in addition to receiving this grant 
  • This scheme is not available to those running a Limited Company
  • Applications for the third instalment is expected to open at the end of November and HMRC assures that payments will be made mid-December.

View the full scheme here 

Government developments & schemes to support small businesses 

  • Deferring self-assessment (and VAT if applicable) payments to January 2021
  • VAT payments that have due dates between 20 March and 30 June 2020 may be deferred but your VAT return must still be filed on time. 
  • The most recent IR35 reform that was scheduled to come into force next month has been postponed until April 2021. Whilst this legislation impacts the private sector, organisations were reviewing contractual arrangements impacting independent social workers. We anticipate this delay will provide further campaigning opportunities for the private sector to challenge this reform. 


Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) 

For those who employ others and/or pay yourself a PAYE salary from your Limited Company – this scheme provides the opportunity for 80% of your businesses salaries to be covered (up to £2500/ month). BASW advises consulting with your accountant to clarify whether you are eligible.

  • The scheme has been extended until March 2021. Find out more
  • Payments for December are open
  • Businessess are responsible for National Insurance and pension contributions of furloughed employees. 
  • 80% of wages (maximum of £2500) will be covered by the governement. 
  • Staff may be on full or part-time furlough
  • Monthly deadlines - claims must be submitted within 14 calendar days following the month they relate to
  • Correcting claims:
    • If you claimed too much, notify HMRC as soon as possible. Notifcation and repayment must be completed either 90 days after CJRS payment or from the time of when circumstances change. 
  • Employees will be able to view CJRS payments requested on their behalf through their Personal Tax Account from February. 

Employers who retain furloughed staff in continous employement until 31 January 2021 may be eligible for a one-off £1000 bonus (per employee). 

HMRC continue to offer a series of webinars to discuss the Job Retention Scheme and will be covering:

  • furloughed workers
  • who can apply for the scheme
  • following the rules of the scheme
  • how much may be claimed
  • how to claim and what you’ll need to claim.

Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and flexible furloughing webinars

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme from 26 May 

A repayment for those who pay themselves and/or staff through a PAYE payroll scheme that was in place prior to 28 February 2020. Payment is applicable to employees who either:

  • have coronavirus
  • are self-isolating and unable to work from home
  • are shielding because they’ve been advised that they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

Find out more

New Style Employment and Support Allowance

Should you have a disability of health condition that is having an impact on your self-employed work, you may be eligible for the New Style Employement and Support Allowance

Find out more 

Government support across the UK 

Guidance on running a social work business

Self-employed social workers will ultimately know their business best and responding to the current climate to mitigate risk and ensure personal and business resilience will be all the more challenging.  BASW suggests members to consider the following:

  • Continuity planning including contingencies: financial and fulfilling contractual obligations
  • Communication with clients. This includes negotiating adapted service provision and delivery timescales
  • Embracing digital working
  • Review your business model - exploring opportunities to evolve your skills and services to meet emerging demands

Sharing experiences and advice for Independents

Join the discussion with self-employed colleagues from across the UK to learn how their managing their businesses during these exceptional circumstances:

Return to Practice

Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, some independent social workers who are not currently in roles within local authority practice may explore a return to practice.

BASW has published information for those considering this on a permanent or temporary basis. Find out more

For further advice, feedback and concerns, please contact BASW Independents.