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Posted on 05th March 2020 in Employment, Coronavirus Pandemic

Posted by

Stephen Jennings

Partner and Solicitor

The position has moved on a little since my update last week.

As previously, the key point is to encourage employees to follow current government and official medical guidance, which can be found here and is widely published elsewhere online. ACAS has also published some helpful guidance which can be found here.

The question of pay has been much in the news. The key principles are:

  • Sick employees are of course entitled to sick pay in line with contract terms / statutory sick pay (as appropriate). Usual principles apply.
  • There is no general legal obligation to pay employees who stay at home and self-isolate (though some employers e.g. local authorities subject to the Green Book may have a contractual obligation to do so). However:
    • There may be good reasons to pay employees full pay if they are self-isolating because they have been exposed to the coronavirus (as they are less likely to struggle in to work and infect everyone else)
    • if NHS 111 or a doctor advises an employee in writing to self-isolate, they should receive statutory sick pay (SSP). There is no legal obligation to pay company sick pay over and above SSP in this case, but it is considered good practice to do so.
    • It was announced earlier today that the law will be changed to entitle employees who self-isolate to SSP from day 1 of their absence (i.e. without the usual 3 days wait). This is expected to come in imminently but is not yet in force.
    • If you are going beyond government guidance and requiring employees to self-isolate in circumstances where there is no public health advice to do so, you should really be paying the employee.


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