The government has issued a number of guidelines for employees concerning the COVID-19 virus.
Staying at home
If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for seven days from when your symptoms started.
If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for seven days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
You can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.
If you are staying at home because of COVID-19, you can now claim SSP. This includes individuals who are caring for people in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine.
To check your sick pay entitlement, you should talk to your employer.
SSP start date
The government is legislating for SSP to be paid from day one, rather than day four, of your absence from work if you are absent from work due to sickness or need to stay at home due to COVID-19.
Once the legislation has been passed, this will apply retrospectively from March 13. You should talk to your employer if you are eligible for SSP and need to claim.
Proof of sickness
If you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can get an ‘isolation note’ by visiting NHS 111 online, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases, this replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) after seven days of sickness absence.
If your employer cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19, they may be able to access support to continue paying part of your wage, to avoid redundancies.
If your employer intends to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off.
To qualify for this scheme, you should not undertake work for them while you are furloughed. This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
You will remain employed while furloughed. Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to.
If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.
Originally intended to run for three months from March 1, the government said that it will extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if necessary.