Your staff: self-isolation, sick pay and quarantine

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As we approach winter, its likely that you will see more employees with coughs and colds and this naturally will prompt some questions on if they should come to work and when they should get a test.  We also have the ever changing quarantine rules. In this article, our partner Nicky Gleadow at The HR Point has covered some key questions on these issues…

SICKNESS & SELF ISOLATION

Employees currently should not attend work if:

  • have coronavirus
  • have coronavirus symptoms, for example a high temperature, new continuous cough or loss of taste and smell
  • someone in their household has coronavirus symptoms
  • are in the same household someone who has symptoms and then develop symptoms themselves
  • been told to ‘shield’ (and are therefore unable to attend their workplace) by the NHS because they are extremely clinically vulnerable due to an underlying health condition
  • been told to self-isolate by a doctor, NHS 111 or the ‘test and trace’ service, because they’ve been in close contact with someone who tested positive.

If they can work from home then they can carry on working from home and should be paid as normal.

If they can not work from home they are entitled SSP (if they qualify) or Company sick pay.

Employers with 250 employees or less can recover two weeks of SSP paid to employees for absences due to coronavirus from 13 March 2020 onwards. The scheme applies to both employees with coronavirus and those who cannot work because they are self-isolating. More information is available on the Government website.

When do people have to self isolate?
If they:

  • have coronavirus
  • have coronavirus symptoms, for example a high temperature, new continuous cough or loss of taste and smell
  • someone in their household has coronavirus symptoms
  • are in the same household someone who has symptoms and then develop symptoms themselves
  • been told to ‘shield’ (and are therefore unable to attend their workplace) by the NHS because they are extremely clinically vulnerable due to an underlying health condition
  • been told to self-isolate by a doctor, NHS 111 or the ‘test and trace’ service, because they’ve been in close contact with someone who tested positive.

People who have been in contact with someone who has to isolate do not have to isolate unless that person develops symptoms. Isolation applies to anyone who has been in contact with someone with Covid.

People self isolating who can work from home should work from home, unless too unwell to do so.

When should people not come in to work?
Employees with Covid should obviously not come into work until after 10 days or they are clear of the virus if symptoms last longer.

Employees who have symptoms should not come to work and should go and get a test and only come back to work if the test is negative.  If the test is positive they should remain off work until they are better.

Should you be requiring employees to have a negative test before returning to work? 
You may decide to make this a rule in your workplace depending on your workplace.

What to do if an employee get tested positive for Covid?
They will need to contact track and trace and inform them of any close contact they have had in the 48 hours before their symptoms started.  If you have employees who were in close contact with this employee in that advised timescale then those employees will need to self isolate and if they develop symptoms get a test.

What about if an employee has a cold, should they come to work?
If they have a cold but none of the Covid symptoms they can still come to work but as symptoms can be similar it will be hard for people to know if it is Covid or a cold / flu.  So you might want to ask them to work from home or stay off work and go and get a test and only come back to work if the test is negative.

QUARANTINE

Is quarantine the same as self isolation?
No, quarantine due to travel is not treated the same and does not qualify for sick pay.  You will need to decide how to handle this with employees, it can be treated as unpaid leave.  If they can work from home then they can do this during the quarantine period.

Can we ask employees who have time off booked if they are going away and where they are going?
Yes in the circumstances this is a practical step to take so you can identify if they will need to quarantine after their time off.

What if an employee chooses to go to somewhere that requires quarantine?
You need to discuss this with them and make arrangement for how you will treat the quarantine period.

Don’t forget about our FREE service for Members with Nicky Gleadow of The HR Point – www.mia.org.uk/support-for-our-industry-through-the-virus-crisis– please remember to use this if you need it!

mia@thehrpoint.co.uk