COVID-19 related sickness absence guidance
2 October 2023
During the pandemic, based on Government advice, employees with COVID-19 were advised to, self-isolate (stay at home).
The local authority took the view that these absences would not be used to trigger any informal or formal sickness absence monitoring. This is no longer the case, based on the latest Government advice - “Living with COVID-19 From 24 February 2022”, which can be found here.
From 1 December 2022, we advised that COVID-19 sickness absences be recorded as part of the sickness absence record and be used as part of any triggers for monitoring.
Based on revised Government guidance about managing COVID-19 (which can be found here) it is our advice that:
- If an employee has symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, and has a high temperature or do not feel well enough to go to work, they should remain at home until they no longer have a high temperature and feel well enough to return to work. These employees do not need to take an at-home rapid lateral flow device (LFD) test if they are symptomatic.
- If an employee does test positive for COVID-19 using an LFD, they should remain at home for five days after the day they took the test, and until they feel well enough to return to work and no longer have a high temperature.
- If an employee has symptoms of mild respiratory illnesses, including cold symptoms, a minor cough, runny nose or sore throat, it is usually appropriate for them to come to work, as long as they feel well enough to do so, and do not have a high temperature.
- If an employee presents for work with symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, and has a high temperature or is clearly not well enough to work, they should be sent home immediately and follow the guidance laid out in point . They should try to avoid contact with others as much as possible and may wish to consider wearing a face covering on their journey home.
- If they can work from home and are fit to do so as their symptoms are mild, they should work from home, if they are not fit to work from home they must be reported as sick.
- Employees who are not fit to work should be recorded as absent due to sickness and if they are off sick for longer than seven days must provide a GP fit note in the normal manner.
- Managers should undertake a risk assessment before staff return to work in line with normal return to work processes.
If the employee meets a sickness trigger under the Schools Managing Sickness Procedure, schools should continue to conduct the sickness meeting under the appropriate policy process, so that any possible support mechanisms can be considered and offered.