Sickness Absence During the Covid-19 Pandemic (England and Wales)

All employers will have policies and procedures to manage employees’ sickness absence. However, these will have been written for a pre-Covid landscape.

Sickness absence policies and procedures will need to be adapted to account for Covid-related illness and the NASUWT has produced a checklist for amendments to sickness absence policies that can be found on the right/below.

The NASUWT would expect the following general approaches to Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 sickness absence to be adopted:

Non-sickness Covid-related absence

Absence due to self-isolation should be discounted for the purposes of sickness entitlement or absence monitoring procedures with self-isolation on full pay and not recorded as sick leave.

Any employees who are unable to attend the workplace due to their individual circumstances making it unsafe should receive full pay.

Employees who are unable to attend the workplace but are working from home should not be considered as on leave but working, whilst those who are unable to work from home should be on authorised leave.

If a pregnant employee is unable to attend the workplace, they should not have their maternity leave brought forward unless they are ill and unable to work due to a pregnancy-related illness in the four weeks immediately before their due date.

Illness due to Covid-19

Any absence due to Covid-19-related illness, including Long Covid, should be recorded as sickness absence if the employee is unable to work from home but should not be counted towards any absence management procedures.

If the employee is still able to work from home, this should not be recorded as sick leave and pay should not be recorded as sick pay.

If the employee is too ill to work from home, it should be counted as sickness absence on full pay.

In addition, sickness absence due to Covid-19 should not be counted towards any employee’s sickness entitlement. Employees with Covid-19 symptoms should not be expected to undertake work.

Where absence is due to Long Covid, the NASUWT has dedicated advice and guidance which is available on our Long Covid Guidance page.