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Do you get sick pay if you’ve been ‘pinged’ – employment rights explained


MORE than 600,000 Brits had to self-isolate after being pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app in just one week, causing chaos across the country.

Thousands of workers have been told to self-isolate recently, bringing businesses to their knees because of staffing crises.

We explain your employment rights if you've been told to self-isolate

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We explain your employment rights if you’ve been told to self-isolateCredit: Getty

Supermarket shelves were left bare, pubs and restaurants such as Toby Carvery and Harvester had to shut, and shops like Greggs closed due to staffing shortages.

Many workers who have been told to stay at home will be concerned about what this means for their paychecks.

We explain all you need to know about your employment rights if you’ve been told to self-isolate – including whether you can get sick pay.

Can I go to work anyway if I’ve been told to self-isolate?

You shouldn’t go into work if you’ve been told to self-isolate. 

It is a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid-19, or you are identified as a contact and told to stay at home by NHS Track and Trace.

If you don’t stick to the rules and self-isolate for the amount of time you’ve been told to – usually at least 10 days – then you could be slapped with a fine starting from £1,000.

Only from August 16 will you not have to self-isolate if you’ve come into contact with someone who tests positive and you’ve been double jabbed.

However, the government last week released the full list of workers exempt from the self-isolation rules over fears that the country could grind to a halt due to the pingdemic.

If you work in these industries and your company gets permission to dodge the 10 day quarantine rules from the government, you don’t have to self-isolate:

  • energy
  • civil nuclear
  • digital infrastructure
  • food production and supply
  • waste
  • water
  • veterinary medicines
  • essential chemicals
  • essential transport
  • medicine
  • medical devices
  • clinical consumable supplies
  • emergency services
  • border control
  • essential defence outputs
  • local government
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Do I get sick pay if I’ve been “pinged”?

Many people will be worrying about what it means for their paycheck if they’ve been told to self-isolate.

If you’ve been told to self-isolate and you can’t do your job from home, then your employer could pay you your full salary – or statutory sick pay (SSP) – while you’re off.

SSP is £96.35 per week and it is paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.

However, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll receive this pay – there are restrictions on who can claim it.

For example, you can’t access it if you’ve already received the payment for 28 weeks and other limits include having had a baby in the past 14 weeks, being in the armed forces or being an agricultural worker.

Financial help you can get self-isolating

COVID infection rates are rising across the UK, forcing more people to self-isolate and putting pressure on their finances.

Here’s the financial help you can get if you’re self-isolating and not able to work from home.

Sick pay

You might be able to get statutory sick pay (SSP) if you’re isolating due to the pandemic, even if you aren’t sick yourself.

SSP is £96.35 per week and it is paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.

There are several other restrictions on who can claim SSP, and you must earn on average at least £120 per week before tax to claim

Coronavirus Self-Isolation Payment

You may be eligible for a one-off payment of £500 if you’re self-isolating, or caring for a child who has been told to stay home.

You need to be getting certain benefits or be on a low income and applications should be made through your local authority – you can find out which council area you live in online.

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Covid Local Support Grant

The government has also launched a Covid Local Support Grant, which will end in September.

People can apply to get grants directly from their councils for help with food, bills and other essentials, but the help available varies between different councils.

Employment and Support Allowance

Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is usually given to people who have a disability or health condition that affects how much they can work.

But you might also be able to access ESA if you were unable to work while self-isolating or shielding because of Covid.

ESA is a contributory benefit, meaning you must have paid national insurance in the two full tax years before the year you are claiming in.

You can apply for ESA online, as long as you have your national insurance number and your bank details.

You will also need your doctor’s contact details and information on your usual income, as well as proof you have been told to self-isolate – this can be a doctors note from NHS 111 or an app notification.

If your claim is successful, you’ll receive £73.10 per week.

Slater Heelis Solicitors employment team partner Sarah Calderwood said you should have a look at the terms of your contract to see if you’re eligible for sick pay.

“It’s all in the wording of the contract which needs to be looked at closely,” she said. “For example does it allow payment for absence just for sickness and injury or is the wording wider to account for self-isolation?”

But if you think your boss is refusing to pay you what you think you are owed, tell them they must fill in a government sick pay form explaining their reasons and handed it back to you.

Once they have done that you need to contact HM Revenue and Customs, which will decide if you are entitled to sick pay or not.

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If your boss still won’t cough up, contact ACAS which will negotiate with them on your behalf.

If you don’t qualify for SSP, then you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Self-Isolation Payment worth £500.

It’s a one-off payment for people on low-incomes – applications have to be made through your local authority which you can find online.

Remember to apply before the cut off date, which is 42 days after you were told to self-isolate.

What about my holiday allowance?

If you’re not eligible for SSP, then you can ask your employer for annual leave to cover your period of self-isolation.

However, your employer does not have to agree to this – as long as they have a good reason not to agree to this.

This means you may to ask for a period of unpaid leave instead. 

However, your employer could also ask you to take annual leave while you’re off work, employment law consultancy firm Peninsula’s HR advice and consultancy director Kate Palmer said – as long as they’ve given enough notice.

She added that if your employer does not grant sick pay or time off, then it is unlikely they will be able to put your on furlough.

“Furlough is not really an option – it’s not intended to cover periods of self-isolation unless an employer is looking at furlough separately because of business conditions,” she said.

“Putting someone on furlough for 10 days which coincides with isolation dates may well ring HMRC alarm bells.”

Martin Lewis explains how to claim up to £500 if you’re self-isolating.

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Martin Lewis reveals how to claim money if you’re self-isolating





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