Should I get paid for time off sick whilst waiting for a COVID-19 test result? | QCS

If I was sent home from work because I had a high temperature and told to get a covid test, and was told I needed to stay at home until I had a negative result, which I did, should I still get paid? The result came at 14.40pm the next day and my finish time is 4PM, so one and a half day’s pay.

Chris King
Answered by Chris King

Thank you for your question. The government guidance is clear on the need to self-isolate if you have symptoms of COVID. The guidance also says you could be eligible for statutory Sick Pay however to qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) you must:

  • Be classed as an employee and have done some work for your employer
  • Earn an average of at least £120 per week
  • Have been ill, self-isolating or ‘shielding’ for at least 4 days in a row (including non-working days).

Unfortunately the issue with the guidance is that it acts both as an incentive for staff to come back to work too early where they may have symptoms or they have a false negative test and a disincentive for them to come back to work sooner than 4 days because they won’t get paid.

The NHS guidance here says that the only time an individual needs to continue to self-isolate after receiving a negative test is if they are in close contact with someone else who is displaying symptoms or has tested positive. That’s when the ten days self-isolation kicks in and SSP entitlement becomes academic. I expect you’re fully familiar with this but I’ve just included it for completeness. In these circumstances, the member of staff being efficient and returning to work at the earliest opportunity is actually to their detriment.

In practice, particularly in social care, if I was advising the employer I would be telling them to make sure they exercise their discretion to give at least the equivalent of the SSP they would have been entitled to for this period for exactly the reason that we don’t want people who shouldn’t be turning up to work doing so and putting service users and other members of staff at risk. I appreciate the employer can’t then claim it back but for the sake of less than £14 per day sick pay it’s a drop in the ocean compared to what might happen otherwise. J, if you haven’t done already I would suggest speaking to your manager , although you aren’t eligible for sick pay under the SSP , your organisation may be willing to pay. It is also worth noting that there has been a recent employment tribunal with a care worker who didn’t isolate.

About Chris King

Chris is one of our Employment Law Specialists from Napthens Solicitors.
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