To ease pressure on GPs during the present time, with high levels of Covid-19 and the roll out of the Covid-19 booster vaccinations, the number of days that an employee can self-certify for sickness has been extended from seven days to 28 days.
This means that a fit to work note or medical evidence of sickness won’t be required for an employee to qualify for statutory sick pay unless the absence period extends beyond 28 days.
The government has updated its guidance on Statutory Sick Pay.
How does this differ to the usual rules?
Employees eligible to receive statutory sick pay (SSP) are not required to provide their employer with medical evidence to support sickness absence for the first seven days of absence. For longer periods of absence, they must obtain medical evidence (a fit note) from their GP.
How long will this rule change apply?
The change applies to absences beginning on or after 10 December 2021, up to and including absences which begin on or before 26 January 2022. The self-certification period will revert to seven days for absences beginning on or after 27 January 2022.
Do the new rules apply to those self-isolating in line with Covid-19 government advice?
An employer can still ask their employee to self-certify that they are sick or are self-isolating due to Covid-19. There is usually a requirement in the contract of employment or the employer’s staff handbook that the employee must notify their employer immediately of any sickness absence and provide evidence as required by the employer’s sickness policy.
If an employee is self-isolating and cannot work because of Covid-19:
- If they have coronavirus symptoms or have tested positive, they can obtain an ‘isolation note’ online from NHS 111 if they are off work for 7 or more days and they do not have to go to their doctor or a hospital.
- If an employee has been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that they have come into contact with someone with COVID-19 and they are told to self-isolate, the notification is proof.
- If an employee has been advised by their doctor or healthcare professional to self-isolate before going into hospital for surgery, the letter confirming the date of the procedure is proof.
Employees must be paid SSP if they cannot work because they’re self-isolating under government guidance. To be eligible for SSP, they must be off work for at least 4 days in a row, including any of their usual non-working days. They are entitled to be paid at least SSP for every day they are off work. This is different to the usual rules for SSP where the first 3 days are unpaid.
However, employees are not entitled to SSP if they are self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK and do not need to self-isolate for any other reason.
Employers might also offer more than SSP in the form of contractual sick pay.
The current rules and guidance regarding self-isolation are under constant review and have changed recently. The rules are also different across England, Scotland and Wales. For up-to-date information, please see the relevant guidance:
- England – NHS Test & Trace in the Workplace
- Scotland – Coronavirus Test and Protect Guidance
- Wales – Self-isolation Guidance