COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Statutory Sick Pay Entitlement

Advice, All Members, COVID-19


The Government’s latest advice (as at 13th March 2020) is to stay at home if you have either:

  • a high temperature
  • a new continuous cough

You will also need to self-isolate if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have returned from an affected area, such as China or Italy.

You can read the Government’s latest information and advice on COVID-19, which is updated daily at 2pm, here

Statutory Sick Pay Entitlement

Today, the Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) Regulations 2020 have come in to effect, which define those deemed incapable of work as:

“He is isolating himself from other people in such a manner as to prevent infection or contamination with coronavirus disease, in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland or Public Health Wales and effective on 12th March 2020; and by reason of that isolation is unable to work.”

In other words, anyone isolating themselves from other people in such a manner as to prevent infection or contamination with COVID-19, in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England, NHS Scotland or Public Health Wales, will be entitled to receive SSP at the very least.

The Government has also announced that SSP will be paid from day 1 instead of day 4 for those affected by COVID-19.

Contractual Sick Pay

You may be entitled to more than SSP if your company has alternative, contractual sick pay terms in place. If you’re uncertain about what you’re entitled to receive, you should contact the Advice Team for further advice.

Self-Isolation: Steps You Must Take

If you cannot work because you have to self-isolate, you should:

  1. Make sure that you let your employer know as soon as possible. 
  2. You need to clearly explain why you are self-isolating.
  3. If you can, you need to give an indication of how long you are expected to be absent from work for.

If you inform your employer by telephone, you should follow it up with an email to confirm what you have said in writing.

Medical Evidence

Your employer may ask you for evidence, which is difficult to provide if you are self-isolating. By law, medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness (i.e. you can self-certify). After 7 days, it is up to your employer to determine what evidence they require, but given the circumstances, we would expect your employer to be reasonable. If you encounter any problems, please call us straight away for further advice. The Government has said that to make it easier for people to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home, an alternative form of evidence to the fit note is being developed which will be available through NHS online in due course.

It’s in the interests of businesses to allow staff to self-isolate (assuming there’s a justifiable reason), to prevent the potential spread of the virus to other employees. If your employer refuses to allow you to self-isolate and you’ve given a justifiable reason for isolating, please contact us for further advice on 01234 716005 (Choose Option 1).

If you have any other questions, please contact the Union’s 24 hour Advice team on 01234 716005 (Choose Option 1) or email

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