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  • Writer's pictureShona

Managing Absence During a Pandemic

Updated: May 7, 2022

Coronavirus is giving us all a headache in one way or another, literally and figuratively. Hopefully, your business is still operating as normally as possible.

As an employer, you already know the trouble that absence causes to your business, and you probably have some sort of process to deal with it. But in times like these, we need to be able to adapt our people management procedures so that they actually serve our business.

Sickness Absence

During a pandemic such as this, you may wish to make some changes to your absence reporting procedure. For example, you might want employees to call one particular person to make sure messaging around shielding and self isolation are consistent.

Depending on how many employees you have, you might want to implement some form of questionnaire, maybe the NHS 111 questionnaire to help you prevent employees taking a cheeky two weeks off with the family.

Other than that, you should follow your normal absence policy. If you don't have one, email and I can sort one out for you.

Sick Pay for Corona-related Absences

This is where the situation can become a little muddy, so I'll try to keep it simple. Now for the most part, you should be following your usual sick pay policy. But let's first look at the different things you need to consider before deciding whether to pay and how much.


These are the people who have received a notification from the NHS that they should stay at home for a period of at least 12 weeks due to their underlying health conditions. Your options here are:

  • Pay SSP only for the duration of their absence from work, from the first day of absence

  • Pay full or half pay for a given period, referring to your normal sick pay policy

  • Or consider furloughing these employees through the government's employment retention scheme.

You should always consider what evidence you will ask for to ensure you can evidence a consistent approach to managing the absences and making the decisions regarding pay.

Remember that no one should suffer a detriment for doing the right thing.

Self Isolators

These are your employees who have symptoms or live with people who have symptoms, and the same applies as above. You should think about how you will record and manage employees who report the need to self isolate.

You should also think about how you will respond if an employee says "I want to self isolate because I'm worried about getting Corona Virus." Is this a genuine reason for absence?

The grapic from the BBC below will help you identify how long people need to self-isolate for, if at all.

Return to Work

You may already have a return to work procedure in place, but if you don't, you need one. This is simply a questionnaire you do with the employee before they come back to work to check they are free of symptoms and safe to be at work. This then gives you and the rest of your team the peace of mind that everyone is safe.

The key thing here is staying on top of things. If you stay on top of what is happening and gather as much information as possible, you put yourself in the best place to be able to respond appropriately.

Lilac HR is still fully operational so please make sure you get in touch to ask any questions. I have a wide range of policies, procedures and forms that we can apply to your business, so just get in touch!

Stay safe out there!

Shona x

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