How much do I need to pay self-isolating employees?
With restrictions likely to lift on 19 July 2021, it is anticipated that COVID-19 cases are likely to rise. In turn, this will lead to more individuals needing to self-isolate either by having symptoms of COVID-19 or being required to by Test and Trace.
The Government have announced, from 16 August 2021, anyone who has close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will no longer have to self-isolate if they have had both jabs. Instead, they will be advised to take a PCR test and only if they test positive themselves will they need to self-isolate, regardless of having two jabs.
Until 16 August 2021, it is a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19, or have been notified by Track and Trace to self-isolate.
With restrictions lifting, more people are likely to receive messages from Track and Trace, leading to a rise in people self-isolating between 19 July and 16 August 2021. Following this, unless someone tests positive for COVID-19 they will not be required to self-isolate if they have had two jabs.
What options are there for employees who are self-isolating?
By having staff self-isolating, this could cause disruption to businesses. We are often being asked how much employees should receive if they are off work self-isolating, as they cannot be forced into the workplace, the options of which largely depend on the circumstances of the employee being off work i.e. whether or not they are unwell or have just been instructed to self-isolate.
The employee can work from home and continue to be entitled to their normal rate of pay, subject to:
- The employee feeling well and able to work; and
- They work in a role that allows them to work from home.
If they employee is unwell and/or it is not possible to carry out their role from home:
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): they may be eligible if they have been off work for at least four days, subject to any more favourable contractual terms i.e. fewer waiting days or contractual sick pay. If SSP is paid, your business may be eligible to claim back up to two weeks’ SSP for the employee.
- If the employee is not eligible for SSP, or they are feeling well but have been told to self-isolate:
- Offer the option to take annual leave to cover pay for the time off;
- Use the furlough scheme if this is still available for your business, although this is now coming to an end; or
- Agree unpaid leave, although this is unlikely to be a favourable option.
- Test and Trace Support Payment scheme: the employee may be eligible to claim financial support under this scheme, however it is the employee’s responsibility to apply, and not directly related to their employment, so you could simply signpost them to this potential support.
If you wish to discuss the above or have any specific questions regarding your workforce, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced Employment Lawyers on 01202 525333 for further advice.