Does an employer need to make an adjustments to sickness policies in light of Covid-19?

Posted On: 19th June 2020

As employees return to the workplace, an employer needs to think about how to deal with any sicknesses as a result of COVID19.

Employers need to have clear position regarding an employees’ entitlement to sick pay regardless of the COVID19 situation, this would ordinarily be in the form of a Sickness Policy, such a policy should be applied consistently in order to minimise the risk of any claims of unfair treatment or discrimination.

Although in recent times it is less likely for employers to offer an enhanced sick pay scheme, some employers still do offer this.

So how does a statutory sick scheme and an enhanced sick pay scheme interact with the challenges that COVID19 presents?

Many employees will not in reality be ‘sick’, rather have very mild symptoms or self-isolating and may be keen to attend or return to the workplace for fear of not receiving enhanced sick pay. Employees in this situation are entitled to SSP in accordance with Government Guidance if they are unable to work from home, however, you will need to consider carefully the wording of any enhanced sick pay scheme and determine what, if any COVID19 related self-isolation periods are covered.

An employer will need to strike the balance between the potential financial impact on the business of paying the enhanced amounts, bearing in mind this may be for more than one period of self-isolation typically lasting 7-14 days in duration vs. the temptation of the employee to come into work in order that they do not suffer any financial detriment, at the risk of contaminating colleagues, customers and suppliers.

Employers may also want to think about adjusting their policies to discount any COVID19 related sickness absence from absence management calculations or triggers. This may be of significance where the consequence of suffering from COVID19 on the employee’s health may be substantial and of long-term duration (12 months or more) which may give rise to a disability discrimination claim.

Any queries at all regarding sick pay, enhanced sick pay, changes to your policies or just assistance in drafting a communication to your employees please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the team on 01926 355560 or email info@absoluteworks.co.uk.