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Coronavirus and Statutory Sick Pay

In Great Britain, Regulations came into force on 13 March 2020 providing that those who self-isolate in accordance with public health guidance on coronavirus are to be deemed incapable of work, for the purpose of claiming statutory sick pay.

The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) Regulations 2020 amend the Statutory Sick Pay (General) Regulations 1982, which defines 'persons deemed incapable of work' for the purpose of statutory sick pay entitlement. The definition is widened to include a person who is isolating themselves '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 [who] by reason of that isolation is unable to work.'

The Regulations do not apply to Northern Ireland and do not address the issue, applicable to both Great Britain and Northern Ireland jurisdictions, that statutory sick pay is not payable for the first three qualifying days in any period of incapacity. The Westminster Government has announced that it will bring forward emergency legislation to provide that sick pay will be available from the first day of sickness absence but that legislation has not yet been published.
 
Whilst there are no Northern Ireland equivalent regulations in force as of yet, the Northern Ireland Executive has not indicated that they intend to take a different approach to such matters and one would assume that equivalent regulations will be brought into effect in due course, but, as of yet, no timescale for such an anticipated approach is known.
 
N.B. As of 13 March 2020, the Northern Ireland Executive confirmed they were taking steps to ensure the equivalent rules above will apply in Northern Ireland.