Employers may notice an increase in the number of employees self-isolating when omicron becomes the prevalent Covid-19 variety.
The UK government has imposed stricter Covid restrictions in England, including the need for workers to wear masks in public areas and work from home if feasible.
It will depend on the situation around why the staff is self-isolating, whether you are required to pay them, the amount you are required to pay, and the amount you are entitled to recover back.
Since omicron, have the rules for self-isolation changed?
People who are fully vaccinated and came in contact with someone who has any Covid variant will no requirement to self-isolate starting tomorrow (Tuesday, December 14). Rather than that, they are encouraged to undergo seven days of lateral flow testing. Those who have a positive lateral flow test or develop Covid symptoms should self-isolate and have a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to validate the findings. If it is positive, they must quarantine themselves for ten days after the positive lateral flow test result or the onset of symptoms.
Adults who have not been vaccinated cannot participate in Covid’s new daily testing programme. If they make contact with those who have Covid-19, irrespective of whether it is omicron, they must isolate for 10 days. They will be exempted if their place of employment is currently subject to daily contact testing.
Is it possible for an employee to work from home if they have tested positive for Covid-19 or been advised to self-isolate?
Yes. If an employee can work full time from home and can perform their job duties from home, there is no reason they cannot do so and continue to be compensated for their work as normal.
Is Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) required of my employees?
SSP regulations applicable to non-Covid-19-related illness will apply.
Additionally, suppose an employee who would normally be eligible for SSP is self-isolating and is absent from work for at least four consecutive days (including regular non-working days). As a result, you should pay the worker SSP each day or they are away from work.
They or anyone they live with has Covid-19-related symptoms or has tested positive.
The NHS or public health authorities have informed them that they have come into close contact with someone who came back positive for Covid-19 (and are unvaccinated as of December 14)
Someone in their support bubble suffers from Covid-19-related symptoms or has tested positive for the virus (and are unvaccinated as of December 14)
A medical practitioner has recommended that they isolate themselves for up to 14 days before hospitalization for surgery.
SSP: How much can I claim?
SSP for qualifying days may be claimed at a rate of £96.35 per week for a minimum of 28 weeks by eligible workers. SSP is only accessible after the fourth qualifying day; however, if your employee is absent due to illness or self-isolation due to COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19, you should begin paying SSP on March 13, 2020, if the employee is absent for at least four consecutive days (including their non-working days).
Does my SSP have a chance of being reclaimed?
Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (CSSPRS) reimburses companies for SSP previously paid to current or past workers. They are only eligible to claim if the employee was out of work on or before September 30 2021. For each employee absent due to illness, up to two weeks’ SSP may be claimed if the following is true:
- The employee was either infected with Covid-19 or was attempting to self-isolate.
- Until April 1, 2021, the employee in England and Wales protected.
- This plan started before or on February 28, 2020.
- On February 28, 2020, you had less than 250 workers.
- You may submit several claims per employee, but your total claim cannot exceed two weeks.
- Utilize the web facility to reclaim SSP under the CSSPRS.
Is it necessary to compensate personnel for time spent in self-isolation?
You should review your employee’s contract and your company’s sick leave or special leave policy to see if your employee is eligible for additional contractual or occupational sick pay.
Alternatively, suppose your employee cannot work from home and earn full contractual pay or does not qualify for SSP or contractual sick pay. In that case, you might suggest that the employee use any unused annual leave to be compensated in full.
Additionally, suppose the employee is on a low income under these circumstances and is instructed by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate. A Test and Track support payment of £500 may be available in this situation. Your employee may get further information.
If none of these alternatives is possible, you may be forced to give unpaid leave.
Do I owe SSP to personnel who are self-isolating or in quarantine due to international travel?
Employees or employees who are placed in self-isolation or quarantine after international travel and cannot work from home are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). You may pay your employee at the SSP rate or a higher rate if you like, but you are not compelled to pay them unless they can work from home or take approved annual leave for the period they cannot report to work.