UPDATE: Coronavirus (Covid-19): Sickness Pay and Leave Entitlements

Posted 23/03/2020

The situation surrounding Coronavirus and its impact on businesses and jobs is changing almost hourly, but here is a brief update from an employment law specialist:


Evidence of COVID-19 related absence from work.

Employees who are self-isolating due to coronavirus (because of apparent symptoms suffered by them or someone living with them) are now covered by Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) eligibility rules following emergency legislation. Where employers insist on evidence it is increasingly untenable that employees can (or should) attend their GP to obtain a sick note.

Consequently, the government has launched an online “isolation note” service to enable employees to obtain evidence that they are genuinely self-isolating on government advice due to COVID-19. This will avoid the need to visit a GP; the service can be accessed via the NHS website, NHS 111 online or the NHS App. After answering a number of questions an isolation note will be sent to the employee or directly to their employer.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Government have announced several emergency measures to help businesses survive the coronavirus crisis. One of these is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

All UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off due to Coronavirus.

To access the scheme an employer will need to:

  1. Designate affected employees as “furloughed workers”, and notify employees of this change;
  2. Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new portal. HMRC will provide further details.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2500 per month. Employers may decide to make up the difference in pay but, subject to individual employees’ contract terms, may not be obliged to do so.

The above does not alter existing employment law and changes may need to be negotiated with employees.

The Government have also announced measures to defer VAT payments for 3 months, business rates holiday for certain sectors (retail, hospitality and leisure businesses) and a new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank.

If the rules or Government guidance on time off are changed in the coming days, we will do what we can to update you here.

If your business requires Employment Law advice regarding this or any other matter contact specialist employment lawyer, David Dixey, on 01376 320456 (Essex) or 01787 275275 (Suffolk) or email

David Dixey

Posted 23/03/2020 by:
David Dixey
Senior Chartered Legal Executive in Litigation & Employment Teams

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