Requests for certification of absence from the workplace relating to covid-19 may fall into five categories:

1. Symptomatic so isolating for seven days - patients can and should self-certify for the first seven days as normal if they are unfit to work. Should they need a notice for to cover self-isolation they should be referred to
2. Symptomatic and remaining unwell for over seven days - if they remain unwell and unfit to work after seven days, they should visit  where there is an online self-assessment tool. They do not need to contact their GP for a certificate.
3. Household contact symptoms so isolating for fourteen days as per government advice - GPs cannot and are not the gatekeeper of the statutory sick pay system and can only provide certificates for the purpose of illness, not in relation to government advice regarding self-isolation. Employers are responsible for putting in place arrangements for home/remote working where this is possible. Where it is not, the employee may obtain an isolation note from  
4. At risk group so following government advice - where they do become unwell during or after this time, point 1 and 2 applies. They do not need to contact their GP.
5. Those in full time education who are symptomatic or requiring self-isolation.  There is no NHS requirement to issue certification to schools or colleges to confirm absence. These organisations must work with parents and students to ensure that any absence is appropriately recorded, obviating the need for a ‘doctor’s note’. They do not need to contact their GP.

The current Government Guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19) states; “By law, medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness. After 7 days, employers may use their discretion around the need for medical evidence if an employee is staying at home.

We strongly suggest that employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to stay at home either as they are unwell themselves, or live with someone who is, in accordance with the public health advices issued by the government.”

Published: Feb 3, 2021

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