As expected the government have now moved to the delay phase of their plan to tackle the spread of Covid-19.
- All people with flu-like symptoms – a fever above 37.8 C or a new persistent or continuous cough should self-isolate for 7 days. (The guidance currently indicates that a persistent or continuous cough is one that has lasted for “several hours”.) They need not contact NHS 111 or their GP unless they cannot cope with the symptoms, the symptoms get worse or do not get better in that time. At that point they would be given a notice to further self-isolate if required.
Further measures that will be taken as the number of coronavirus infections move towards its peak will include:
- Older people and those with health conditions are advised to reduce social contact and stay at home.
- If someone falls ill, their whole household should self isolate for 14 days.
The Regulations providing for those who self-isolate in accordance with public health guidance on coronavirus to be considered incapable of work, for the purpose of claiming statutory sick pay, have been made and brought into force today (13 March 2020).
The definition now includes a person who is ‘isolating himself [or herself] from other people in such a manner as to prevent infection or contamination with coronavirus disease, in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland or Public Health Wales …. and [who] by reason of that isolation is unable to work”.
Given the statement by the government on the 7 day self-isolation (above), it would appear that a Notice or “Fit Note” will not be required for the first 7 days of isolation.
SSP from day one
The government have not yet changed the Regulations that allow SSP to be paid from day one of self-isolation. This is expected to be imminent and I will give you a further update on how and when that will apply once I know more.
I have been asked if an employer can require an employee to take holiday to either allow for a period of isolation or to deal with a reduction in work.
An employer can require an employee to take holiday. If you wanted to do this, you must give notice to the employee. That must be a least twice as long as the holiday that is required to be taken. If you want an employee to take a one week holiday you have to give them two weeks notice.
There is very little case law on this. However the courts have indicated that the request should be reasonable.
If you have any particular queries please do not hesitate to contact David Scott.