[Upload date: 9/3/20]
Current government guidance is that an individual should self-isolate at home for 14 days after visiting certain areas or after having close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).
If an employee is self-isolating, following government guidance, but they do not have any symptoms, it is arguable that they do not have the right to statutory sick pay, as this applies only where the employee is incapable of work due to illness.
However, it would be good practice for employers to treat the absence as sick leave and pay the employee in accordance with their usual policy, or to pay them in full. Employers should aim to avoid the situation where an employee attends work against medical guidance, risking the spread of coronavirus, because they are concerned about not being paid or having to use up their annual leave allowance to cover any absence.
If an employee is absent following an instruction from their employer not to come to work as a preventative measure, they are entitled to be paid as usual.
On 26 February 2020, Health Secretary Matt Hancock made a statement to the House of Commons saying that “Self-isolation on medical advice is considered sickness for employment purposes. That is a very important message for employers and those who can go home and self-isolate as if they were sick, because it is for medical reasons.” Whether or not this is an accurate explanation of the legal position for all employees, it confirms that it is good practice for employers to pay sick pay to self-isolating employees as if they were in fact ill.
If an employee has tested positive for coronavirus, or has flu-like symptoms, they will be entitled to sick pay as usual.
On 4 March 2020, the Prime Minister announced that emergency legislation would be brought forward, including “measures to allow the payment of statutory sick pay from the very first day you are sick, instead of four days under the current rules”. No further details are yet known about this measure, such as which individuals will be covered.
If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610