Absence due to COVID-19

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All employees not able to attend work due to unforeseen circumstances must be treated sympathetically, fairly and flexibly in consideration of the nature of their work and their contractual provisions.

Employees must tell their line manager (or another member of the school management team if they are not available) as soon as possible if they cannot attend work, following the usual school absence reporting procedure.

Employees who may be exhibiting symptoms

Symptoms such as a cough, difficulty in breathing and/or a fever may develop after exposure to the COVID-19 infection. Employees showing such symptoms who believe they may have been exposed to the virus are encouraged to call NHS 111 or Public Health England, in order to make a sufficient judgement as to whether they should self-isolate.

Employees who have been advised to self isolate

Employees who have been advised by NHS 111 or Public Health England to self isolate but are otherwise fit for work are entitled to full pay for the 14 days. They are not required to take annual leave and the absence will not be recorded or treated as sickness absence. However in cases where an employee is too unwell to attend work then this will be classed as sickness absence and recorded appropriately.

Where the employee’s role allows them to work from home, providing they are well enough to do so, arrangements should be discussed and agreed with their line manager.

If an employee needs time off work to look after a dependant

Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a 'dependant') in an unexpected event or emergency.

An employee’s dependants can include:

      • the employee’s spouse or civil partner
      • the employee’s parent
      • the employee’s child
      • a person who lives in the employee’s household excluding tenants, lodgers and employees
There's no statutory right to pay for this time off, however your school policies have a range of contractual provisions that may be able to account for the time off, including;
      • Annual Leave
      • Time Off for Dependants
      • Unpaid Leave

Managers should discuss with the employee all possibilities available with a view to reaching an agreement with the employee on how the lost time will be accounted for. A mixture of all the options available is permissible.

Time off for Dependants (Unpaid Leave)

Should employees have no other practical option but to incur a deduction of pay through unpaid leave, then discussions should be held with the employee to agree a reasonable period over which the deductions can be spread in order to avoid any financial hardship.

Additional Working and Lieu Time

The ‘paying back’ of the lost time over an agreed future period can be agreed where the nature of the work allows for this.

Employees who can accrue flexitime, lieu time or overtime can be allowed to pay back the additional time off over a reasonable future period up to a maximum of 12 months. Where hardship would be caused, the manager should seek further advice.

Managers and employees should be aware that overtime hours that would normally attract enhanced rates of pay, do not attract any enhancement when taken as time off in lieu.

For employees who work overtime, it would therefore be financially more beneficial to be paid for the overtime and take unpaid leave for the unforeseen time off and spread the pay deductions.

Managers should also consider offering employees additional work, where available, to help make up the lost time e.g. in circumstances where an additional shift may normally be offered to a casual worker.

All possibilities should be considered in order that employees do not have to incur a deduction of pay should that not be their preferred option, wherever this is possible.

The agreed arrangements should also try to ensure that an employee’s future holiday arrangements are not adversely affected.

Further advice/guidance

For the latest information on the coronavirus refer to the NHS and PHE websites. The Government have also published guidance relating to educational settings.