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Ensuring your sickness policies are healthy

Ensuring your sickness policies are healthy

Soon after, the prime minister announced that workers eligible for SSP will now receive it from their first day off work, giving them three-days-worth of extra pay. This decision was made to encourage more people to self-isolate should they be showing symptoms of the disease. In Boris Johnson’s words, those protecting others from coronavirus should not be “penalised for doing the right thing”.

Undoubtedly, it is essential that employers put the health and safety of employees first when dealing with workplace issues associated with coronavirus, including sick pay arrangements. Workers must not be put off self-isolating out of fear that they will not get paid, and this decision is certainly a step in the right direction, but further clarity is still needed for employers.

The law clearly states that employees who make the decision to self-isolate without grounds to do so will not be entitled to statutory sick pay. However, the stance is less clear cut for those who have just returned from an ‘affected’ country or have recently been in contact with someone who is presenting with the symptoms. They could potentially be carriers of the virus, and so it would be safer for them to self-isolate, but there is a question mark over the correct procedure. What employers choose to do in terms of sick pay in this situation is entirely up to them unless there is a Government order or medical fit note which is issued to cover the particular circumstances.

In the midst of great uncertainty, employers should avoid being too rigid about their sickness policies and look to take a more discretionary view, at least for the time being. By adopting a fair and flexible approach, employers can mitigate against potential workplace issues and ensure that employees are in a position to treat this evolving situation sensibly and safely without financial worries.

Coronavirus doesn’t appear to be going anywhere for now, making it even more important for employers to review their sickness policies. Seeking advice from a professional is essential to ensuring policies are robust enough without removing all room for maneuver, in what is a constantly changing landscape.

For more information, please contact Michael Hibbs on 0121 631 5367 or another member of the employment team in your local office. For advice or guidance on any other legal issue, a member of our team can help – please click here to discuss.