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:
Employees/workers are entitled to self-certify, and during this emergency, employers are not able to insist on a fit-note from a doctor after 7 days. Employers of fewer than 250 across all PAYE payroll schemes created on or before 28 February 2020 are now able to reclaim the statutory sick pay element from day one for at least 14 days. The online service to reclaim SSP is now available here.
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
- are self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms; or
- are self-isolating because they’ve been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that they’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus;
- are shielding and have a letter from the NHS or a GP telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks; or
- have been notified by the NHS to self-isolate before surgery for up to 14 days.
You will be able to from the first qualifying day your employee is off work if the period of sickness started 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
- 28 May 2020 - if your employee has been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that they’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus
- 26 August 2020 – if your employee has been notified by the NHS to self-isolate before surgery.
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. You must have paid your employees’ sick pay before you claim it back.