The employee/worker is entitled to sick leave, to Statutory Sick Pay and contractually agreed sick pay if any. The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 provide for categories of people to be treated as incapable of work for the purposes of statutory sick pay (SSP). The Regulations provide that where a person is isolating themselves from others in accordance with advice on Coronavirus, they are deemed to be incapable of work. That guidance is published in digital form only:
The Government has indicated that employees/workers will be entitled to self-certify, and that during this emergency, employers will not be able to insist on a fit-note from a doctor after 7 days. It has also indicated that SSP will be paid from day one, and that employers of fewer than 250 will be able to reclaim the statutory sick pay element for at least 14 days. Recent guidance has confirmed that the online service will be available from 26 May.
The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first qualifying day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either:
- have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms; or
cannot work because they are self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms; or
- are shielding and have a letter from the NHS or a GP telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.
You will be able to claim for periods of sickness starting on or after:
- 13 March 2020 - if your employee had coronavirus or the symptoms or is self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms
- 16 April 2020 - if your employee was shielding because of coronavirus
Employers need to be clear whether staff are off sick, and unfit for work, whether the employee/worker is unable to work from home and is self-isolating, or whether the employee/worker is self-isolating but is able to work from home. In the latter case where they are fit to work the employee/worker will normally be entitled to full pay for work done. Employers should also consider deeming employees to be furloughed employees as outlined at 2 below. However, employees cannot be furloughed at the same time as receiving SSP.