Tina Din, associate in our Employment team, comments on the current sick leave rules in place for employees:
Employees have been able to self-certify their absence from work due to sickness for up to 28 days instead of seven days from 10 December 2021. This is due to cover sickness absence starting before, or on 26 January 2022, however, this may be extended to allow GPs to focus on the vaccine booster rollout. The move was introduced to lessen the strain on GPs having to issue Fit Notes after seven days of absence for employees seeking to claim sick pay benefits.
More than 20 NHS trusts have been critically affected by staggering staffing shortages caused by the rapid spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant. Albeit a welcomed move generally by employees and no doubt GPs, for employers a concern has always been the risk of abuse at the hands of some employees fraudulently claiming sick pay benefits.
Employers have been mainly responsible for funding Covid-19 related Statutory Sick Pay since 30 September 2021. This move no doubt increases pressure on employers to manage their staff on sick leave more proactively to avoid potential abuse of sick pay provisions. This is in addition to the strain felt across critical industries that are already facing staffing and supply shortages due to staff having to self-isolate.
It will be interesting to see if the scheme is extended past 27 January 2022, and the effects of ongoing ramifications felt by employers.