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  • COVID 19 – Sickness, Shielding, Self-Isolation and Statutory Sick Pay FAQs

April 30, 2020

Jump straight to your question.

Other Absence and Pay FAQs

Do you have to pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to employees who are infected with coronavirus?

Yes, you must pay SSP to all employees who are off sick due to coronavirus or have symptoms.  

Do you have to pay SSP to employees who are self-isolating or shielding?

Yes, the Government has introduced new legislation meaning that individuals who are unable to work because they are self-isolating or shielding in line with government guidance are entitled to receive SSP.

This applies to employees who are self-isolating to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

It also includes:

  • Employees self-isolating because someone in their household has been diagnosed with coronavirus;
  • Or are exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus.;
  • Those who have been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111.

When does SSP become payable?

It is payable from the first day of any coronavirus related sick leave and can be applied retrospectively from 13 March 2020.

Can you reclaim SSP?

Yes, if you have less than 250 employees, then you can reclaim any SSP paid to an employee in the first 14 days of a coronavirus related sickness absence.

Again this will have retrospective effect from 13 March 2020.

What medical evidence do employees need to provide?

The majority of sickness absence policies require employees to self-certify for the first seven days of absence.

Employees should, therefore, continue to do this in the usual way.

After seven days, employers are entitled to ask for medical evidence of incapacity.

Ordinarily an employee would obtain such evidence from their GP by way of a fit note.

However, this may be difficult for an employee as current guidance states that individuals with symptoms of coronavirus should not go to see their GP in order to prevent the spread of infection.

The Government, therefore, introduced an online isolation note service on 20 March 2020 which is accessible via the NHS website and NHS 111 online. 

This isolation note can be used as medical evidence and sent to an employer.

Can you send employee home from work to self-isolate?

Yes you can, but this would be tantamount to a suspension and would be on full pay.

You should consider if it is possible for the employee to work from home as an alternative to suspension.

If the employee is in the category of individuals who should self-isolate in line with public health guidance or if they are exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus then you can treat them as being on sick leave rather than suspension.

What should you do if an employee is living with someone who might have coronavirus?

You should advise the employee to self-isolate for 14 days in line with the Government's Stay at home guidance.

In this scenario, the employee will be entitled to SSP.

What should you do if an employee refuses to attend work due to fears about coronavirus?

In the first instance, you should consider if the employee can work from home.

If this is not possible, then consider if the employee can be furloughed or if they will agree to take annual leave or unpaid leave.

If none of those options are appropriate and there are no discrimination issues, then, in theory, you can require the employee to attend work.

However, you must be careful before considering any disciplinary action, especially where you are considering dismissal.

Certain dismissals related to the raising of health and safety concerns are deemed to be automatically unfair. They do not require and qualifying length of service.

For example, if an employee refuses to attend work because they believed that they were in serious and imminent danger and they could not reasonably have been expected to avert that danger, then if you dismissed them as a result under section 100(1)(d) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 their dismissal could be automatically unfair.

You should also bear in mind that a complaint that the workplace is unsafe could amount to a protected disclosure under whistleblowing legislation meaning the employee would be protected against suffering any detriment and dismissal.

The information set out in the FAQ's above are for general information only and under no circumstances should be use as a substitute for legal advice. Please note that due to the frequency of the announcements from Government about Covid-19 information on this page may change and require updating.  Any information on this page should therefore not be regarded as comprehensive or relied upon when making decisions and you should always take legal advice which is relevant to your specific circumstances. Neathouse Partners accepts no responsibility for any loss or damage arising from any action taken or not taken by anyone using the information detailed on this page.

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About the author 

James Rowland

James is the Commercial Director at Neathouse Partners and regularly writes articles surrounding issues in HR & Employment Law. Outside of the office, James is a keen Cricketer, playing in the Cheshire League for Nantwich CC. He also loves going to watch his football team, Crewe Alexandra. Feel free to connect with James on LinkedIn.

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