Following on from the announcement of Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday, that those in self-isolation on medical advice should be treated as on sick leave, and may be eligible for statutory sick pay, Boris Johnson has made a further announcement regarding sick pay today.

Mr Johnson has announced that the government will ensure that employees who are absent from work due to self-isolation will receive statutory sick pay (SSP) from the first day of absence. Under the existing rules, during the first three days of absence the employee receives no pay at all.

Having considered the various government advice for employers and the law surrounding the payment of statutory sick pay, we have drafted the following short recommendations:

  • Familiarise yourself with the most recent government guidance relating to at risk countries and steps to prevent spread of the virus.
  • Issue instructions to employees regarding hand washing and other steps they should take whether at home or work to prevent infection.
  • Inform employees they should contact 111 or their GP where they have visited one of the at risk countries in the last 14 days before they return to work.
  • Once the employee has been given medical advice they should inform the company of the advice they have received. The employee should follow the advice they have been given which may include self-isolation.
  • Where the employee has been advised to self-isolate, government guidance is that the employee can self-certify as absent for the first seven days and would be eligible for SSP where they meet the other eligibility requirements following the enactment of Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020.
  • Under the SSP regulations an employer can determine what evidence must be provided by the employee as proof of sickness after the first seven days. The government guidance today recommends that employers should consider relaxing the requirement to provide medical certificates. This would be especially important where an employee is symptom free but has been advised by 111 or a doctor to self-isolate for 14 days, as a GP would be unlikely to issue a medical certificate.


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Author: Sarah Dillon

Director, ESP Law Ltd

Sarah is a litigation expert with over 15 years’ experience. Sarah embarked on her career in employment law as an advocate for an employment law consultancy and continued as an advocate alongside being an employment law advisor for a plethora of reputable UK law firms including: DAC Beachcroft, Ward Hadaway and Richmonds Solicitors, where she was head of the employment department.