Thursday, 20 October 2022 15:28

Covid and Sickness Absence

Covid cases are on the rise again and we are seeing more of our clients experiencing cases of absence amongst their staff owing to Covid. Indeed, Government statistics to the 8th October show an increase of cases in England of over 21%. We’re not immune either at HR Champions, and have recently had a number of our own team test positive.

The increase in cases has coincided with the onset of Autumn, and as the cooler, wetter weather begins to take hold, we must expect cases to increase further as more of us stay indoors and share confined spaces. Whilst the fuel crisis may mean your employer is still holding out on turning the heating on at work, good ventilation, one of the recommended measures to fight the spread of the disease, is likely to suffer as doors and windows remain firmly shut to keep out cold draughts.

With this potential, if not inevitable, rise in Covid cases, we have reviewed the latest Government and NHS guidance. The key elements for employers to consider are:

  • In all cases, the overriding consideration is an employer’s duty of care and their responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their work activities. Employers must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve this.

  • Covid is now treated in the same way as any other sick absence and the normal sick pay rules apply.

  • Guidance states that people who test positive or who have Covid symptoms should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days. They should also avoid contact with those that are higher risk from Covid for 10 days. This period starts the day after a positive test.

  • If individuals feel unwell but have either tested negative or not tested positive, they should still avoid contact with people and especially those considered to be vulnerable.

Covid remains a highly transmissible disease that poses a significant risk to business continuity when it is identified in the workplace. Our advice therefore is:

  • If a person has Covid symptoms or tests positive, they should work from home where this is possible to act in line with current Government guidance and for at least the 5-day period.

  • If the infected employee’s job is one where they are not able to work from home, then they should not be in work and should be on sick leave.

  • If an infected employee’s position is one where they are able to work from home, but they are too ill to work, then again, they should be on sick leave. Their absence should be used to rest and recuperate.

Employers who allow Covid positive individuals into the workplace potentially put their colleagues at risk (particularly the vulnerable which includes those who are pregnant) and expose themselves to having more employees being sick.

In the current economic climate, employees are likely to want to avoid being off sick. Although their intention maybe admirable, they are potentially putting their colleagues, customers, and your business continuity at risk. Equally, employers may struggle if they are short staffed.

The law doesn’t say you must isolate if you are Covid positive any more so this leads us to a grey area.

If you do allow Covid-positive people into the workplace, or if you turn a blind eye to employees with symptoms, then you should be confident that you have robust procedures in place that are preventing the risk of transmission and that your employees are fully confident and pro-active with these arrangements.

So, you wouldn’t expect a care worker in a nursing home to attend work if they tested positive, but a roofer on a building site who could work at a distance from others might be OK.

Investing in some lateral flow tests for employees to use might be a good idea if you have vulnerable workers.

Covid symptoms continue to evolve and the latest can be found at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms/main-symptoms/

We’ve tried to cover all the bases here but there are bound to be cases with an anomaly or two so we’re here to help when required on 01452 331331 or drop us an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Read 1908 times Last modified on Thursday, 20 October 2022 15:43


HR Champions provide first class HR and Employment Law support and advice to UK businesses; operationally and strategically. If you're an employer you'll potentially need some, if not all, of the services we offer.

We deliver excellent management and soft skills training suitable for all organisational levels. We are ILM and City & Guild accredited and Ken Blanchard approved.  





We are located in Gloucester in the West of the UK close to the M4 and M5 corridors. For a precise map and directions find us on Google Maps

We have clients all over the UK but predominantly within about an hour's drive time of our offices; in Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Bristol and Swindon & Wiltshire.