A section in the government guidance on business support titled “If your employee is self-isolating or on sick leave”, says employees self-isolating or on sick leave as a result of Covid “may be able to get statutory sick pay”.
It adds that the Job Retention Scheme “is not intended for short-term absences from work due to sickness” and “short term illness or self-isolation should not be a consideration when deciding if you should furlough an employee”.
“It’s up to employers to decide if they will furlough these employees. An employer does not need to be facing a wider reduction in demand or be closed to be eligible to claim for these employees,” it says.
‘Always been clear’
“The guidance sets out that the scheme is not intended for short-term absences from work due to sickness or self-isolation. We have a specific support package in place for those self-isolating due to coronavirus, including one-off payments for those on low incomes.
“If an employer wants to furlough an employee for business reasons and they are currently off sick then they are eligible to do so as with other employees. This has been set out in guidance since April last year.”
“The government were advised time and time again how crucial a proper self-isolation system is for curbing the spread of infection, and protecting people’s lives and livelihoods,” she said.
“Lives will likely have been lost and higher infection rates will cost the NHS and employers far more in the long run.
“We need to know whether ministers approved the decision to withhold this advice. An urgent investigation should be established with accountability to Parliament.”