Sick Pay Rules for Self-Isolation and Restricted Working Due to Coronavirus (Covid-19)
What are the rules if your employees need to self-isolate in the current coronavirus pandemic?
Current NHS guidance is if you suspect you may have come into contact with someone who has Coronavirus you should self isolate for 14 days. (Ring 111 if you need to check your status).
So what is the position for an employer if your staff ring and tell you they have to self-isolate but are not actually experiencing symptoms of sickness.
Statutory sick Pay (SSP) is payable where there is a tangible sickness, that is something which prevents the employee performing their duties, but the regulations also cover periods of precautionary or convalescent absence. So if an employee has been told by a competent professional to stay at home and self isolate they should be considered for SSP.
There is also legislation which states SSP should be considered if a person is absent from work “by reason of being a carrier or having been in contact with a case of a relevant disease”.
HMRC’s view is that to be eligible for SSP the primary condition is:
“they must be unfit for work under their contract of employment due to physical or mental incapacity, or have been advised to refrain from work for precautionary or convalescent reasons. Or be a carrier of or have been in contact with an infectious or contagious disease and been issued with a statement from the appropriate medical officer advising them not to go to work”.
What should you do?
At present you would ask the employee for a fit note or health report if their absence exceeded seven days, we expect that in the current situation this requirement will be relaxed to self-certify up to 14 days.
Ensure you use form SSP1 (with ref 10/19) for employees who are not eligible for SSP, to ensure your they can claim benefits for this period of sickness.
Other situations where employees don’t come into work.
An employee may choose not to attend work for fear of catching the virus, this is their choice and you have no obligation to pay SSP contractual sickness or salary, it is in effect unpaid leave.
You may also take the view that you want to restrict your employees attendance or to ask them to work from home. In both of these instances you are imposing the restriction and your employees should be paid in full.