If an employee cannot attend work due to sickness, they are usually required to inform their line manager before they are due to start work (or as soon as possible if this is not practical) and provide medical evidence (eg a sick note from their doctor) for sickness of more than 7 days.
In light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, employees should not attend work and follow the Government's guidance on self-isolation if they, or anyone they live with develops:
a fever, particularly a high temperature (i.e. a temperature of 37.8 degrees or over); and/or
a continuous cough.
Employees living alone should self-isolate for 7 days from when symptoms, however mild, start.
Employees living with others should self-isolate (together with their household) for 14 days from the first appearance of symptoms. The first individual experiencing symptoms can return to their normal routine if their symptoms clear after 7 days and there is specific government advice on what to do if anyone else within the household subsequently displays symptoms.
Employees who aren't experiencing any symptoms should still self-isolate if they have (1) been in contact with a confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) carrier; or (2) have recently travelled overseas; or (3) are in a vulnerable group, eg aged 70 or over, have an underlying health condition, or are pregnant.
For more than 7 days' absence, you could ask employees to provide you with an 'isolation note' from NHS 111, which can be obtained by completing a simple questionnaire. A letter from the NHS advising an employee to 'self-shield' because a serious underlying health condition means that they are at high risk is also sufficient evidence.
Make sure employees' contact details are up to date in the event that you need to reach them while they are in self-isolation.
If eligible, employees would normally receive statutory sick pay (SSP) where:
they have a period of sickness absence from work of at least 4 calendar days in a row; and
3 'waiting days' (i.e. days on which they would usually be required to work) have passed.
Where absences relate to coronavirus (COVID-19), SSP is payable from day 1 if an employee has been self-isolating for at least 4 days, however, this only applies if the first day of absence was on or after 13 March 2020.
Alternatively, you may pay employees contractual sick pay as set out in their contracts of employment.
As a temporary measure during the pandemic, you are expected to pay your employees if:
you have asked them to stay away from the workplace and self-isolate;
they are self-isolating because they have symptoms; or
they are self-isolating in response to medical advice from NHS 111, their doctor or a local health protection team.