Do Employers Have to Pay Employees Who are Self-Isolating After Returning From an Affected Area?

Posted in : First Tuesday Q&A NI on 3 March 2020
Arthur Cox
Arthur Cox
Issues covered:

Firstly, if employees are self-isolating as a precautionary measure, depending on the nature of their role, they may be able to continue working from home.  In such instances, employees would continue to be paid because they are still fulfilling their duties to their employer.

If employees who are self-isolating develop symptoms and become unwell, they will usually be entitled to sick pay. Employers should check their policies to see if company sick pay is payable or if the employee will just receive statutory sick pay, subject to the eligibility requirements being satisfied.

There is no automatic right for employees who are self-isolating and cannot work from home to receive sick pay, if they are not actually sick.  However, LRA guidance states that employers should “follow best practice” and treat it as sick leave or to agree that the time off will be taken as annual leave.

Strictly speaking there is no legal right for employees who cannot attend work to be paid because they will not be fulfilling their contractual duties. However, if the employee is returning from one of the areas where government guidance has recommended self-isolation, employers should consider the practical implications of refusing to pay employees who are in quarantine.  For example, it may encourage employees to come into the workplace and risk spreading the virus.  

There would be an even more persuasive argument for employees to receive full pay if they have been advised to self-isolate after returning from work-related travel to an affected area.


Back to Q&A's This article is correct at 03/03/2020

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Arthur Cox
Arthur Cox

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