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Pingdemic: Will I get paid if I can’t work from home?

Laura Kearsley, partner and employment law solicitor at Nelsons, explains what the law says on workers’ wages after getting pinged.

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Hundreds of people across Gedling borough have been advised to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app since it was launched in September 2020 – leaving employees worrying about whether they’ll get paid if they’re unable to work from home. 

Laura Kearsley, partner and employment law solicitor at Nelsons, explains what the law says on workers’ wages after getting pinged.

“Adults who receive an alert from the NHS Covid-19 app are advised to self-isolate for up to ten days unless they have received both of their vaccinations, though this can be longer if someone goes on to develop symptoms themselves.

“Over the past few weeks, the number of people being ‘pinged’ by the app has reportedly resulted in staff shortages and disruption for some businesses. This is particularly challenging for those industries where people are unable to work from home, such as supermarkets and on transport networks.

“This has caused many workers across the country to be worried about whether they will still receive their usual wage if they are not fully vaccinated and, as a result, forced to self-isolate.

“Earlier in the pandemic, the government said those who aren’t displaying symptoms but have been told to stay away from work should be entitled to sick pay. However, strictly speaking, there is no right to sick pay for anyone in self-isolation as technically, it’s just a precaution and they are not considered ‘sick’.

“Statutory sick pay (SSP) is available to those who are employed, earning at least £118 a week and have been off work for four consecutive days. The current rate of SSP is £94.25 per week and can be paid for up to a maximum of 28 weeks for the days employees usually work. SSP is usually payable after three ‘waiting days’ of absence but these do not apply to most circumstances where an employee is self-isolating and they will be entitled to sick pay from day one. It’s up to your employer – and should be set out in your contract – as to whether you’re paid more than SSP.

“If SSP isn’t an option, a pinged employee could ask to be furloughed and receive 80% of their current salary up to £2,500, although the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is due to end on 30 September. Alternatively, workers can ask for annual or unpaid leave to self-isolate.

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“Those who are required to self-isolate, are on low incomes and unable to work from home could be entitled to financial support through the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme, which provides a one-off payment of £500.

“The self-employed could try and claim a payment from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, which pays up to 80% of average profits up to a maximum of £7,500 for three months. Like the CJRS, this is due to end on 30 September.

“While those who are pinged by the app are not guaranteed financial support if they cannot work, we would recommend employers be flexible and use discretion where possible.”

For more information or to speak to a member of Nelsons’ employment team, please visit www.nelsonslaw.co.uk/employee-rights.

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