Do employers have to pay employees who are self-isolating?
Employees who can continue working from home
If employees are self-isolating as a precautionary measure, depending on the nature of their role, they may be able to continue working from home. In such instances, employees would continue to receive full pay because they are still fulfilling their duties to their employer.
Employees who cannot work from home and have no symptoms
The general position was that there was no automatic right for employees who are self-isolating with no symptoms and who cannot work from home to receive SSP.
However, given the unprecedented circumstances of the Coronavirus pandemic, emergency legislation has been introduced. The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020, amends the general statutory sick pay (“SSP”) legislation to enable those who are self-isolating on advice from Public Health to be deemed ‘incapable of work’ for the purposes of receiving SSP.
Essentially, employees who are self-isolating or socially distancing as a precautionary measure in line with Public Health advice may be entitled to SSP provided that they satisfy the other eligibility requirements.
Employees who develop symptoms
If employees who are self-isolating develop symptoms and become unwell, they will usually be entitled to either company sick pay or statutory sick pay (“SSP”) in the usual way.
Employers should keep a close eye on the emergency legislation being introduced and also on NI specific guidance and/or legislation that may follow.
Statutory Sick Pay
Small and medium sized employers will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for sickness absence due to Covid-19.
UK businesses with under 250 employees as at 28 February 2020 can claim back statutory sick pay paid to staff suffering from Covid-19 or those who have been advised to self-isolate as a precautionary measure in line with Government advice. This is in addition to the change announced by the Prime Minister that SSP will be payable from day 1 instead of day 4 for affected individuals.