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Working and living with COVID-19 is becoming a way of life now, but as an employer this raises some queries in terms of how to manage your employees through this pandemic. One of the questions we get asked the most is in relation to absence and how to manage employees’ absence in relation to Corona Virus.

There are a number of scenarios that are occurring with employees, which is leaving managers unsure on how to manage the absence and what the employee is eligible to in terms of pay. It is important to emphasise that employees must follow government guidance if they, or someone in their household are presenting with Corona Virus symptoms. I will take you through the scenarios we have come across so far and what options there may be:

An employee is self-isolating because they have Corona Virus symptoms and are unwell

The employee should receive statutory sick pay and any occupational sick pay that they are entitled to in line with their terms and conditions.

An employee is self-isolating because a member of their household is presenting corona virus symptoms. They themselves are NOT unwell and are able to work from home.

In this situation if the employee is able to work from home and they are working from home, they would be eligible to receive their full pay in line with their contract of employment.

However if the business are unable to facilitate the employee working from home, then they would be eligible to receive SSP and any occupational sick pay that the employee may be eligible to in line with their contract of employment.

An employee is self-isolating, they are NOT unwell but refusing to work from home

In this circumstance, they would be eligible to receive SSP but any occupational sick pay would be paid at the discretion of the line manager and business.

What do I do if an employee is refusing to work when they are not unwell?

If a member of staff does not want to attend the workplace, absence needs to be recorded in one of the following ways – either annual leave, or unauthorised absence. Unauthorised absence is unpaid, and matters would be dealt with in the normal way in line with their contract of employment and terms of service.

What do I do if an employee cannot work because their child has been told to self-isolate by track and trace?

If an employee is the main caregiver for their child they will inevitably require the time off to care for their child. However as your employee isn’t the one that is required to self-isolate  so they are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay in line with government guidance. If your employee can work from home then you would pay them as normal in line with their terms and conditions, however if they are unable to work from home the leave would either be authorized unpaid or they could possibly cover the leave with their annual leave allowance.   

 However if the child starts to display symptoms or indeed if they themselves start to display symptoms, then at the point they are required to self-isolate and would be eligible to Statutory Sick Pay.

What do I do if an employee is self-isolating due to foreign travel?

Anyone returning to the UK from a country that is NOT in the exempt list will have to quarantine (self-isolate) for a further 14 days.

It is important that staff members make sure that they are aware of the current Government advice about travelling abroad during this time and any potential implications that might occur as a result of any travel.

If there is a need to self-isolate or quarantine following returning to the UK, this time will need to be either taken as additional annual leave or in the event that the employee does not have sufficient annual leave left to cover this absence, it will be regarded as unpaid leave.

Hopefully this gives you some helpful guidance on how to manage your employees during these uncertain times. If you are faced with a scenario that is not covered in this post or you just want some further advice and support, the HR team at LMC UK Services are always here to help. You can call us on 0800 953 4020 or email amy@lmcukservices.co.uk