Can your boss force you to go to work if you have Covid?
The rules on Covid isolation in England are set to change on February 24 and people with Covid will no longer need to stay home and stay away from everyone.
Currently, the law says you must stay home for at least five days if you test positive for Covid 19.
But from the end of this month, those rules will be scrapped – and Covid will be treated more like other viruses, like the flu.
But does that mean your boss can force you to go to work if you test positive for Covid – or think you have?
A spokesman for the Prime Minister, when asked if people could go to work with Covid, said: “So there would be advice, it wouldn’t be what we recommend.
“What we would simply do is remove national regulations around isolation.
“But obviously, in the same way as a person with the flu, we wouldn’t recommend that they go to work, we would never recommend anyone to go to work when they have an infectious disease.”
He continued: “We talked about how we will have to manage life with the coronavirus as we come out of this pandemic. We are entering this phase of endemicity that I have spoken about, and it is only right that we adapt. Consequently.” ‘
In short, the answer is no.
Your boss can’t force you to go to work if you have Covid, any more than he can force you to go to work if you have another illness.
You’re allowed to ‘self-certify’ you’re sick for up to seven days – meaning you don’t need a doctor’s note or proof of your illness.
You will need to call your boss to let him know you are sick before your shift starts.
Your company may have no-show policies detailing how long before your shift starts you should call and who you should speak to.
It might be reasonable for your company to ask you to call every day you are sick to confirm that you are not coming.
And it might be reasonable for them to ask you to perform certain tasks – like answer vital questions – while you’re sick.
You will be entitled to statutory sick pay while you are away, or whatever is stated in your contract.
If your boss is trying to discipline or even fire you for taking valid sick leave, you may have a case to take them to court.
If you are away for more than seven days you will need a free ‘adjustment note’ from your GP.
UK government rules state: “If employees are absent from work for 7 days or less, they do not need to give their employer an appropriate note or other proof of illness from a medical professional.
“When they return to work, their employer may ask them to confirm that they have been on sick leave. This is called ‘self-certification’. The employer and employee will agree on the how the employee should proceed. They may need to fill out a form or email details of their work stoppage.”