26/02/2020

Northern Italy has now been added to the growing list of countries from which returning travellers must self-isolate as world health experts try to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

But what does this mean for employers whose employees may be unable to attend work for the 14-day self-isolation period following their return from one of the worst affected countries?

If an employee has tested positively for coronavirus, your company’s usual sick leave and pay entitlements apply.

However, if a person is following medical advice to self-isolate for 14-days as a precautionary measure or has had to go into quarantine, there is no statutory right to time off sick or paid time off.

In this situation, ACAS guidance suggests an employee who has self-isolated or is in quarantine should be treated as being off sick to remove the risk that the employee feels they have no option but to come to work.

Some employers may be sympathetic and allow some paid time, or it might be possible to allow employees to work from home and therefore still be paid.

The bottom line is that people who are not working, will be unpaid for three waiting days and then paid Statutory Sick Pay unless their employment terms offer more. Full pay (if not in the contract) would be at the discretion of the company.

It is important that any absence for self-isolation isn’t held against the employee when considering their attendance levels, as they are staying away from work on the advice of medical experts and taking responsible steps to avoid exposing colleagues to the coronavirus.

For the latest guidance on coronavirus self-isolation visit gov.uk  or for employment law advice email laura.franklin@beswicks.com. You can also phone us on 01782 205000. For unlimited HR guidance for employers, ask us about our Beswicks HR service.