Changes during Coronavirus

Temporary changes have been made to sick pay and sickness absence arrangements during the pandemic.

Changes to sick pay and sickness absence arrangements during the Coronavirus pandemic

The temporary changes to sick pay and sickness absence arrangements during the pandemic are detailed in Law at Work (2020, pp 288-291):

Isolation notes

The UK government says it introduced Isolation notes to provide employees with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate due to coronavirus, either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and so cannot work (Online isolation notes launched - providing proof of coronavirus absence from work).

Isolation notes can be obtained without contacting a doctor. They are available through the NHS website or NHS 111 Online.

Employees can already self-certify for the first seven days of sickness absence. You can use an isolation note after this period.

The advisory and conciliation service, ACAS, recommends that if an employee or worker needs to self-isolate, the employer should (Self-isolation for coronavirus (COVID-19)):

  • Send them home immediately, if they are at work.
  • Support them while they are at home, including their wellbeing and mental health.
  • Consider making changes to the workplace, to stop further spread.

ACAS also says that those unable to work because they are ill with coronavirus, or who cannot work from home while self-isolating, must receive any sick pay they are entitled to. Employers should treat anyone who has to self-isolate more than once in the same way each time.

Temporary changes to Statutory Sick Pay

Since March, 2020, SSP has been available to all eligible workers who are self-isolating in line with official advice. The 'waiting days' rule has been suspended, and SSP is payable from day one for workers who have Covid-19 or who are self-isolating.

Since April, 2020, extremely vulnerable workers who received official advice to shield for at least 12 weeks have been eligible for SSP.