Can you go to work with Covid? Public Health Guidance and Sick Pay Information

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  • With the removal of legal regulations, many are wondering if you can now go to work with Covid?

    Many assumed the end was near when Downing Street rolled out its Living with Covid plan in late February. But a recent rise in Omicron symptoms and people with covid twice proved the pandemic is far from over – as covid continues to pile up cases across the UK.

    Unlike imposed lockdowns, Covid rules like social distancing and self-isolation no longer legally exist. And it has caused confusion about how to navigate life when this positive line appears. However, much like deciding if your child can go to school with Covid, there are public health guidelines that should be followed if you test positive but are able to work.

    Can you go to work with Covid?

    In England, legally nothing prevents you from going to work with the Covid. However, current government and NHS advice asks you to prioritize working from home. Staying away from your workplace can help avoid spreading Covid to others, especially those who are potentially vulnerable.

    The NHS website makes it clear that people who test positive, have symptoms of Covid, have a high temperature or generally feel unwell should “try to stay home and avoid contact with other people”.

    Credit: Getty

    This message is supported by the government. They said those who fall into any of these categories should “try to work from home if you can”. “If you cannot work from home, talk to your employer about your options,” the statement on the government website continues.

    In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, self-isolation legislation remains in place. Which means you legally can’t go to work with Covid.

    When can I return to work after Covid?

    Current government guidance in England says people with Covid can return to work once they have tested negative or “until you no longer have a high temperature (if you had one) or until you no longer feel unwell.

    In a letter shared with healthcare staff in late February, NHS England bosses clarified protocol on when they can return to work after testing positive with Covid. They say workers should not report to work until they have had “two negative LFD test results taken 24 hours apart”.

    “The first test should not be performed until day 5 after their initial positive test,” the letter adds. “These tests must be spaced 24 hours apart. And provided they are medically fit, they can return to work on the morning of Day 6 provided they tested negative 24 hours earlier.

    NHS public health advice also supports this 5-day isolation period from the onset of symptoms. Indeed, this period is when people with Covid are considered to be the most contagious.

    The NHS adds that people with HIV should also try “to avoid meeting people at higher risk of COVID-19 for 10 days, especially if their immune system means they are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. 19, even if they have had a COVID-19 vaccine.

    For best practices, follow public health advice and talk to your employer. You can then agree together on an appropriate return to work date.

    Will I be paid if I call in sick with Covid?

    According to lawyers Landau Law, employees on sick leave with Covid will receive their usual sick pay entitlements. “This would include Statutory Sick Pay (‘SSP’) and any contractual sick pay offered by your employer,” they state.

    The UNISON union agrees that the SSP will cover people on sick leave with Covid-19: “From March 25, the normal rules of the SSP will apply to absences related to Covid, which means that the SSP will only be paid ‘from the fourth qualifying day on which you are on leave. work regardless of the reason for your absence due to illness.

    a light box with the words sick leave displayed

    Credit: Getty

    At the height of the pandemic, the legislation on statutory sickness benefits changed slightly. So that workers receive this state pay from the first day of absence. However, the end of the legal requirement to self-isolate means the SSP has returned to normal. This means that the payment applies after the fourth day of absence.

    Can you go to work if a household member has Covid?

    There is now no legal obligation to self-isolate if you come into contact with a positive Covid case. It is therefore up to the individual to decide whether they will work if another member of the household has Covid. That being said, if you start to develop symptoms, testing is recommended. And take the necessary precautions if the result is positive.

    From a salary point of view, employers are no longer obliged to pay staff on isolation leave. And that includes statutory sick pay. Self-isolation and the legislation surrounding it officially ended on March 25, 2022.

    “Staff are no longer entitled to SSP to self-isolate, unless they are unwell and ill,” read a statement on the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service website. (ACAS) of the government.

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