Many companies have taken advantage of the UK Government’s Furlough Scheme during the COVID pandemic to help ease financial pressures, after being forced to close or seeing their operations severely reduced.
At the end of 2021, the government has extended the number of days for which workers can self-certify sickness for statutory sick pay (SSP), from 7 to 28 days. The aim is to reduce the number of workers asking GPs for fit notes, allowing doctors more time to focus their efforts on the COVID-19 booster roll out.
The extension to self-certification applies to any sickness absence that started:
- On or after 10 December 2021, where their leave of absence was still continuing on 17 December 2021; and
- Between 17 December 2021 to 26 January 2022.
However, this is subject to review and may be extended if required to support the COVID-19 booster roll out.
The 28 days includes non-working days, such as weekends and bank holidays.
Employers may have contractual provisions requiring employees to provide a fit note following a 7-day sickness absence. Although these contractual provisions may still apply, GPs will likely be unwilling to provide a fit note if the employee has not been absent for more than 28 days and therefore employers should be prepared temporarily to relax any contractual requirement or policy.
If you have any queries concerning the new temporary self-certification period or how it effects your current sickness procedures, please contact our Employment Team.