Get up to date information and guidance on how to support colleagues from the ACAS information on coronavirus.

ACAS are the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. An independent public body that receives funding from the government, they work with employers and employees to provide free and impartial advice on:

  • employment rights
  • best practice and policies
  • resolving workplace conflict

What to do if an employee needs time off work to look after someone: Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a ‘dependant’) in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations related to coronavirus (COVID-19). For example:

If they have children they need to look after or arrange childcare for because their school has closed to help their child or another dependant if they’re sick, or need to go into isolation or hospital

There’s no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): Those who follow advice to stay at home and who cannot work as a result will be eligible for SSP, even if they are not themselves sick. Employers should use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate in making decisions about sick pay.

Anyone not eligible to receive sick pay, including those earning less than an average of £118 per week, some of those working in the gig economy, or self-employed people, are able to claim Universal Credit and or contributory Employment and Support Allowance.

For those on a low income and already claiming Universal Credit, it is designed to automatically adjust depending on people’s earnings or other income. However, if someone needs money urgently they can apply for an advance through the journal.

Certifying absence from work: By law, medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness. After 7 days, employers may use their discretion around the need for medical evidence if an employee is staying at home.

The government is strongly encouraging employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to stay at home either as they are unwell themselves, or live with someone who is, in accordance with the public health advice issued by the government.

ACAS have more information on coronavirus and can help with specific queries by phone.