Kate Brooks
Partner, Solicitor & Head of Employment/HR Services
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Date Published:11 Mar 2020 Last Updated:10 Apr 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19): are you entitled to wages if you self isolate?

Employment Law Advice

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forcing the nation into lockdown, one of the
key questions we’re seeing raised is whether or not you’re entitled to wages if
you self-isolate.

The law in relation to pay is:

  1. If any employee is ready and willing to work but prevented by the employer, the employee must be paid in full. This means if your employer closes, or insists you self isolate, you will be entitled to full pay. This will be the case even if the closure of the business has been enforced by the Government
  2. If an employee is not ready or willing to work i.e. chooses to self isolate, against the wishes of the employer, they will not be entitled to be paid.
  3. If an employee has to take time off to care for a dependant this could be classed as emergency dependant leave.There is a legal right for employees to take unpaid time off in an emergency situation to care for a dependant, although this is only in order to put in place an alternative arrangement. If there is no alternative arrangement, then an employee may be forced to take more time off which strictly speaking would be unpaid.

We are advising employers that while strictly speaking time off may be able to be legally unpaid, employers must consider the damaging impact on morale and productivity, as well as the risk of people not self isolating and spreading the Coronavirus (COVID-19) to the wider workforce. We suggest that employers consider whether:

1.People can work from home – normal pay or pro rata;

2.Take paid holiday; or

3.Treat the matter as sickness.

If you have any questions on HR related matters during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please contact Kate Brooks or call 01202 057754.