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Frequently Asked Questions

1. An employee that has no symptoms, does not live with anyone that is self-isolating, and is not in a high-risk category, has decided to self-isolate – what pay are they entitled to?

There appears to be no legitimate reason for the employee to self-isolate, thus they would not be entitled to paid leave or statutory sick pay (SSP).


2. If someone lives with someone who has been told to self-isolate, does our employee have to too?

Yes, anyone who lives with someone who has been advised to self-isolate or has symptoms will need to self-isolate for 14 days whether they show any symptoms or not.


3. I have an employee who is classed as being high risk, should they be self-isolating and what are their entitlements if they do?

The current advice from the government is that people who are classed as high risk should reduce social contact for a period of up to 3 months.  If they choose to self-isolate they would be entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) from day 1.  It may be possible for you to agree for them to work remotely or take paid annual leave.


4. Can I enforce that high-risk employees self-isolate?

Although there are guidelines which highly recommend that high risk employees self-isolate, if they wish to continue working then they have the right to do so. We would recommend that a risk assessment is undertaken with the employee, which they sign confirming they are happy to continue working.  Where possible it would be advisable to implement homeworking.


5. Do employees need to provide a fit note as per any other period of sickness?

No, because people are being advised to stay away from their local GP. Notification from NHS 111 should be provided. We would advise conducting a return to work assessment to capture the reason for the absence, any advice given and if they are well enough to return.


6. Should any self-isolation time be excluded from any sick totals in the same way as pregnancy related sickness?

We would advise that as the employee has been advised to self-isolate for the greater good of others, that it should not count towards absence triggers.  You may not wish to advertise this across the business, but we advise that you continue to manage absence in the same way but take into account any COVID-19 related absence when making an absence related decision.


7. What is the guidance if we want to implement a temperature sensing procedure to our production employees?

You could consider whether temperature checks are reasonable as part of providing a safe place of work.  For example, if you are limited to what other measures you can introduce.  However, you must have employees’ consent to this and be mindful of the Equality Act.  This screening should be applied consistently across the workplace to avoid claims of discrimination and harassment. 


8. Should we follow our parental leave policies if parents find themselves having to deal with childcare due to school closures?

Employees who are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19) can be furloughed.  This includes employees that need to look after children. 


9. What if we have an employee that can’t afford the time off and sick pay is not an option?

This would be an unfortunate situation; you could explore the option for them to work remotely, and therefore be paid during this period, or agree to a request for paid annual leave to be used.


10. I have an employee whose flight has been cancelled and is currently unable to return from their holiday, what should I be paying them for this?

If they have any remaining holiday entitlement, you could agree for them to take additional paid annual leave. If not, then it would be unpaid leave.  Depending on the circumstances they may be entitled to claim statutory sick pay (SSP).


11. Can I force employees to take paid holiday if we are forced to shut down?

The arrangements for deciding when leave may be taken may be set out in a relevant agreement, in the contract of employment/statement of terms and conditions or a handbook or separate holiday policy. In the absence of any agreed procedure the Working Time Regulations provide the following: 

  • The employer can require the worker to take all or any of the leave at specified times provided that prior notice is given. The notice from the employer to the employee must equal twice that of the number of days’ leave to be taken. 
  • If there is no relevant agreement, the worker is required to give notice equivalent to twice the period of leave to be taken. The employer may refuse the worker permission to take such leave; however,r the employer must give notice of this decision equal to the number of days’ leave requested. 


12. What are the arrangements or entitlements for staff on zero-hour contracts?

In order to minimise the risk of falling foul of the Part Time Workers Regulations (which zero hours will fall under), or of running the risk of a potential discrimination claim, contractual benefits should be the same (pro rata) as for full-time colleagues.

Zero Hours employees have a right to National Minimum Wage and paid holiday. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is available to zero hours contract workers as long as:

–  They’ve done some work for you.
–  They follow your rules about reporting sickness
–  They earn on average at least £118 per week (before tax).

You would need to work out if they have earned £118 or more or less in the eight weeks prior; if they have less than eight week’s service, it would be the average since day one.


13. All our staff are on zero-hour contracts, are they entitled to Statutory Guarantee pay in the event of lay off or short time working?

In the event of Lay Off, employees should receive the £29 per day for a maximum of five days in a rolling 3-month period. If they earn less than this, they would get their usual day’s pay. To calculate this, you would take an average of the last 12 weeks.

If staff on zero hours contracts were expecting to be working or they normally worked each week or had been given a rota scheduling them to work during the period you intend to lay off then you should pay the guarantee pay or pay based on an average as above.

If staff are on genuine zero hours and really ad hoc and you hadn’t already offered work recently or during the proposed lay off period, then you could just not offer any hours for the foreseeable future.


14. Can you advise on any ‘hospitality services advice’ specifically advice for staff (who also handle food) and customers, in our bar and café?

The Government is currently providing industry specific advice for some sectors which is being updated regularly:

The following link also provides guidelines on workplaces:


15. Is there any specific extra signage that needs to be visible to staff and the public?

Currently signage is not a requirement, however some companies are choosing to put up additional notices and making readily available hand gel and hand washing facilities.

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