If an employee has been advised to self-isolate (e.g. through the test and trace system) are we entitled to ask for evidence to verify this?Posted in : First Tuesday Q&A NI on 6 July 2020 Issues covered: Coronavirus; Sickness and Absence; Test and Trace
Northern Ireland has its own test and trace system in place via the Public Health Agency (“PHA”). The PHA contact tracing system identifies individuals who have been in close contact (for example, being less than 2 metres apart for more than 15 minutes) with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The PHA will then inform the individuals of this and provide them with advice on self-isolating and obtaining a COVID-19 test.
Whilst employers will welcome the test and trace system as it will hopefully help reduce the spread of COVID-19, it could lead to higher levels of absence in the workplace, especially as individuals may be contacted multiple times by the PHA.
Employers can ask for evidence from employees to prove that they are required to self-isolate, particularly if they have reason to believe an employee is not being truthful. Furthermore, some employers may require evidence for statutory sick pay (“SSP”) purposes. This is due to the Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme whereby employers with under 250 employees (as at 28 February 2020) can reclaim SSP for the first 14 days of COVID-19 related absence. In order to make a rebate claim, employers will need to provide a copy of the formal notification that an employee receives from the PHA.
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