Coronavirus – what are your rights to time off and sick pay? banner

News and Insight

Home / News and Insight / Wards News / Coronavirus – what are your rights to time off and sick pay?

Coronavirus – what are your rights to time off and sick pay?

Coronavirus – what are your rights to time off and sick pay?

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop, the UK is beginning to see significant disruption to travel, public events and the economy.

For employees, there are a number of important issues to consider, whether it's restrictions on travel to and from work, or questions around sick pay during self-isolation and any ill health.

Here, we look at what you need to know, and how your employee rights may be affected.

Your rights relating to time off for COVID-19 ("coronavirus") related reasons:

If you are sick, or if you self-isolate by choice, or have been advised to do so by a medical professional (NHS 111 or your GP)

The Government has confirmed that employees are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from the first day of absence. If your contract of employment provides for enhanced sick pay, you would be entitled to be paid accordingly.

If you are fine to work, but your employer tells you to stay away

Provided that you are willing and able to work, you are entitled to be paid your normal pay if asked not to attend work in order to control the spread of conoravirus. If you work varying hours, or earn commission, the average of your last 12 weeks earnings should be used to determine your entitlement.

If your contract gives your employer the right to 'lay off' staff, you may not be entitled to be paid.

Similarly, if your contract provides for no guarantee of hours (a zero hours contract), then again there may be no right to be paid during any period of enforced absence.

If you have to stay off work to help someone suffering from coronavirus

The starting point is that you do not have a statutory right to take leave unless you are caring for a dependant. There is no statutory right to be paid for time off in these circumstances, although your contract may provide for enhanced provisions governing time off and pay. An alternative might be to request the time off as annual leave, for which you are broadly entitled to be paid.

Actions to consider taking in order to protect yourself

  • Get as much information from your employer as possible

Ask for clarity around their absence management and pay policies. Given the exceptional circumstances facing the UK at the moment, many employers are choosing to relax their normal policies and procedures.

  • Be proactive

If you have any concerns that you may be at risk of contracting coronavirus or if you are feeling unwell, you should seek advice from your employer immediately and follow public health guidelines issued by the NHS.

Ask whether it is possible to work from home to minimise the risk of any reduction of pay. Offer to hold meetings online in order to avoid unnecessary travel or contact.

  • Communicate honestly with your employer

If you start to feel unwell or have been advised to self-isolate, tell your employer immediately so that they can consider which measure they recommend for you to follow.

Guidance has been issued by various agencies, organisations and government departments. It is important to recognise that this is a rapidly evolving set of circumstances and one which requires continuous review. Acas offers regularly updated advice for employees here:

Disclaimer: this article is for guidance only and should not be taken as a substitute for legal advice.

    Get in Touch

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA. The Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

    Important notice: please read

    Cyber-crime is on the increase and solicitor transactions can be hijacked by scammers. This commonly takes the form of email or phone interception.  At the start of our working relationship we will provide you with terms of business that include our account details – these will never change.

    Please be aware that we will never ask you to send money to a different bank account, particularly by email. If you receive a request for money from us please check that everything matches the details in our terms of business.

    If you receive an email giving any other bank account please telephone us immediately without replying to the email or sending any money. We accept no responsibility if you transfer money to a bank account which is not ours.

    Wards Solicitors