Coronavirus, sick pay and self isolation. (The ongoing saga...)

A number of people have asked about the position with respect to sick pay when an employee self isolates, and so this short update is intended to clarify the situation.

When an employee who self isolates is given a written notice, usually issued by a GP or by 111, then they are deemed in accordance with the Regulations to be incapable of work, and so are entitled to their usual contractual sick pay from day one. This notice is likely to be in email form in England. Where you pay statutory sick pay only, then there is a change. Sick pay will be paid from day one of confinement, rather than day four. If someone chooses to self-isolate, and/or is not given that written notice, then they are not entitled to sick pay, although your organisation may choose to pay it. A clear policy is essential to ensure staff are treated consistently.

Obviously, if someone is able to effectively work their full hours from home, their usual salary applies, but that will be a matter for the organisation to determine; the organisation does not have to find work during this time.

Where the employer requires a staff member to self isolate then it is likely that paid leave will be due, unless that employer has a contractual right to place an employee on a period of unpaid leave.

For workers/zero hours staff the situation is less clear. Essentially if they are paid at least £118 per week (before tax) over the last eight weeks, then they should also be entitled to statutory sick pay from day one. The reality is that around two million workers don't earn enough to qualify.

You will need to consider your own organisation's cirumstances in the light of this. The fear is that staff may be tempted to make a decision based on hardship, potentially worsening infection rates.

I'd be interested in hearing how your company is approaching this, please leave a comment if you're willing to share.


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