I visited friends over the weekend who admitted to spending a large proportion of last week gleefully downloading films on Netflix in preparation for their time in self-quarantine. Another friend is a teacher and he’s praying for his school to close. Again, his Netflix downloads have received some serious attention over the last few days.
But what about businesses? What can employers do if employees suddenly decide to lock themselves in their house for 14 days because some-one sneezed next to them on the bus?
To be clear, there is no statutory right to pay if an employee is not sick but they cannot work because they:
have been told by a medical expert to self-isolate
have had to go into quarantine
are abroad in an affected area and are not allowed to travel back to the UK
Also, employers can still discipline – in line with their Disciplinary and Performance Management Policy – if someone is not ill but is refusing to come into work.
If the employee insists on remaining in self-quarantine, we would advise stopping their sick pay, even if they are entitled to it (assuming they remain well).
If an employer has specifically told an employee not to come into the workplace because they have been to an affected area, they would be entitled to their normal pay. And employees who are actually ill because of coronavirus would be entitled to statutory sick pay or contractual sick pay.
To avoid any suggestion of discrimination, employers need to ensure they’re being consistent in their approach to self-quarantine, even if this means unpaid sick leave for employees.