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Government changes sickness absence reporting guidance

Employers must ensure they don’t withhold sick pay from individuals who can’t provide a fit note, as it’s highly possible they are simply unable to get an appointment with their doctor.

The Government has updated its guidance on sickness absence reporting to outline the following:

If an employee goes off sick on or after 10 December 2021, up to and including 26 January 2022, you cannot ask them for proof of sickness until they have been off for 28 days or more.

Employers can accept self-certification forms for any absence (with the exception of Covid-related absences) for the first 28 days, after which they can expect a fit note as normal.

For absences relating to Covid-19, for example, those who have tested positive or were contacted by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact, companies can ask employees for proof of positive test or isolation request.

Alan Price is CEO at BrightHR. He says “These changes to sickness reporting procedures mean employers will be able to accept self-certification forms from employees for sickness absences lasting up to 28 days.

“Employers must ensure they don’t withhold sick pay from individuals who can’t provide a fit note, as it’s highly possible they are simply unable to get an appointment with their doctor.

“Several GP practices are suspending normal appointments to focus on the rollout of booster vaccines. As such, there may be a knock-on effect on any requests for medical reports, which could prolong medical capability processes.

The extension of self-certification of absence also does not negate an employer’s responsibility to conduct regular welfare meetings; all other aspects of the absence management process should remain as usual.”

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