How Different Countries Are Approaching COVID-19 Unemployment
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3rd Mar | 5 min read

This post was created to illustrate the different measures that governments are taking to protect the people in their country who’ve lost their jobs because of COVID-19. All of the information below was directly sourced from various news articles and government websites. 

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United Kingdom

The UK government will pay 80% of salary for staff who are kept on by their employer, but are unable to work because of the pandemic, covering wages of up to £2,500 a month. 

If you are still asked to work, but cannot because you’re too sick, you can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.

Self-employed can so far only access £94.25 a week. This plan is being criticised for still having “significant gaps” especially for people who are self-employed (15% of the UK workforce) who are asking for the £94.25 to be increased.

If you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you are self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or new style Employment and Support Allowance.


In Ireland, if your employer cannot continue to pay you and has to lay you off during the pandemic, you can claim income supports from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

The new COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is available to employees, self-employed people, students and non-EEA nationals who have lost all their employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The payment has a simple one–page application form and is paid at a flat rate payment of €350 per week. Read our document on the new COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

If your working hours are reduced to 3 days or less per week you should apply for Short Time Work Support which is a form of Jobseeker’s Benefit.


President Macron announced an “exceptional and massive” aid package to help workers affected by the virus. Known as “partial activity” status, workers will avoid losing their jobs if they are not able to work due to self-isolation. Under the rules, workers receive 84% of their usual net salary, financed by State aid.

In regards to those who are self employed, Macron stated: “For entrepreneurs, traders, artisans, a [new] solidarity fund will be created, funded by the State, and to which the prime minister will also propose that the regions contribute.


In Italy, to discourage layoffs during the crisis, employees of companies that have paralyzed their activities will be entitled to receive a benefit in the amount of 80% of the salary, paid by the agency similar to the Brazilian INSS.

For parents who cannot or do not want to be absent from work, the package includes a € 600 voucher for hiring babysitters. This amount increases to € 1000 in the case of healthcare workers, such as doctors, nurses and laboratory workers.


In Germany, employers can shorten normal working hours and apply for short-time work benefits for their employees. The employee is partially released from the obligation to perform work. He loses his entitlement to remuneration in the same amount, but receives short-time allowance as compensation for the loss of earnings. For short-time work benefits, the Federal Employment Agency pays 60 percent of the lost net wages for a maximum of twelve months, and 67 percent for employees with children.

New Zealand

New Zealand’s new Covid-19 leave payment scheme will provide support through employers (and to sole traders and the self-employed) for those people unable to work who are either in self-isolation, are sick or are caring for dependents who are in either of these situations.  Full time workers will receive $585 per week under the scheme. 

Eligible firms will be provided a lump sum payment of the equivalent of $585 per week per full-time employee and $350 per week per part time employee for 12 weeks up to a cap of $150,000.

To qualify businesses must declare they have had a 30% decline in revenue due to COVID-19 month-on-month for any month between January and June this year (compared to last year), and that they have talked to their bank about assistance.


Currently, under Australia’s JobSeeker program, the maximum rate for a single recipient without dependents is currently A$565.70 per fortnight. Lone parents and those over 60 who have been on benefit for nine months or more currently get more, while members of couples each get somewhat less.

For the six months from April 27 the government will boost it by A$550 per fortnight through a special time-limited Coronavirus Supplement. The JobSeeker payment will be about $1,100 a fortnight.

Importantly, the extra $550 will go to all current recipients, including those who get less than $565.70 because they have assets or are in part-time work.

It will also go to both existing and new recipients of the Youth Allowance JobSeeker Payment, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.


Canada's Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) covers those who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined or taking care of someone who is ill with the virus. It covers working parents who have to stay home to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The benefit applies to wage-earners, contract workers and people who are self-employed.. The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.

United States 

In the US, plans were approved by congress to provide Adults with $1,200 each and children $500 each. At higher incomes, the checks would get smaller: If you earn less than $75,000 in a single person household, you will earn the full benefit. The benefit would start decreasing at a rate of $5 for every additional $100 in income after $75,000 for singles, $112,500 for heads of household, and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly; it would phase out entirely by $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples (with no children). The check is a one off for now. 


There were no formal stimulus packages offered from China to its employees. When the virus hit in February, many private companies cut wages, delayed paychecks or stopped paying staff completely, saying that the economic toll of the coronavirus had left them unable to cover their labor costs. By law, companies had to comply with a full pay cycle in February before cutting wages to the minimum. Companies that weren’t making enough to cover payroll, were permitted to delay salaries, as long as staff get the money they’re owed eventually.

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