As you may have seen, the Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Regulations 2021 came into force last Friday (17th December). Under these new Regulations, employees can temporarily self-certify sickness for 28 days (including non-working days) before needing a fit note from their GP. Previously a fit note had to be provided after 7 days. The purpose of the extension is said to relieve the pressure on GPs during the COVID booster programme.
This change applies to sick leave that commences between 10th December 2021 and 26th January 2022. It is possible that this period could be extended. Employers will need to ensure that the new rules are applied in relation to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) during this period.
If employees are self-isolating and cannot work because of COVID-19 they can still get an ‘isolation note’ online from NHS 111.
Our preliminary view is that the provisions referred to above only apply to SSP and therefore employers can continue to require employees to provide a fit note after 7 days illness in order to access contractual sick pay. However, practical issues may arise as GPs may not be amenable to providing fit notes prior to 28 days and may charge a fee for this service. You should take advice from your legal or HR provider in relation to the applicability of the new rules on your organisation’s contractual sick pay.