Content in this guide:
• Current position
• Government considering
• What about company sick pay?
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that those in self-isolation on medical advice should
be treated as on sick leave and may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
This may raise questions for some of you and we explain the background behind the
comments, informed by top Employment Law Barrister, Daniel Barnett and Emma Ahmed of
Section 151 (4) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 describes a day of
incapacity for work under the Act as a person being incapable by some specific disease or
bodily or mental disablement of doing work expected under a contract. Which is unlikely to
apply to self-isolation.
However, regulation 2 of the Statutory Sick Pay (General) Regulations 1982 provides for
exceptions including if a person is excluded or abstains from work due to a request or notice
in writing lawfully made because the person is infected or contaminated or has been in
contact with a case of a relevant infection or contamination.
Accordingly, if someone who self isolates (see here), does so to comply with a written
notice issued by a GP or 111, then they are deemed in accordance with the regulations to
be incapable of work, and so are entitled to SSP, under the existing regulations.
However, if somebody chooses to self-isolate, and they have not been issued with a written
notice to do so, they are not currently entitled to SSP.
In the wave of the virus, the government is considering relaxing the rules on the eligibility of
SSP so that it could be paid from day 1 rather than day 4 as it currently stands. Whether they
will relax the definition is yet unclear. Other questions also remain concerning how the
revised regulations could affect other workers, if at all, such as those who are self-employed,
or who earn under the current threshold, or those who are on zero-hour contracts. Many of
these categories of workers are not eligible for SSP.
What about company sick pay?
Whether or not employers are legally obliged to pay company sick pay offered under an
employment contract depends on the wording of the contract. However, it is likely that the
wording would suggest that it would only be payable if the reason for incapacity is the same
or like that described under the 1992 Act.
This is a generic guide and we would advise employers to seek advice tailored to their
We hope to have answers to the remaining questions in due course and shall keep you
updated as the situation changes.
In the meantime, if you need further information or advice on this or any other employment
matter, please contact us.