COVID-19 – Sickness Absence

Please note that from Monday 22 November 2021 any new cases of Suspected COVID-19, Confirmed COVID-19 and Long COVID-19 up to 12 weeks must now be recorded as Special Leave. However some sickness absence management arrangements still apply.

Recording of the above categories backdated to the 30 September 2021 will be carried out by POD. Managers must not change any existing absence records as this may impact on the employees pay.

Suspected COVID-19

  • If an employee contacts you to inform you that they have symptoms which could suggest they are infected with the coronavirus they must be advised to self-isolate at home and to request a COVID-19 test. Further information on testing can be found here
  • The absence must be recorded on iTrent by the manager, in accordance with the matrix. Please note that if the employee is fit enough to work from home and this can be accommodated by the service (if they are not already doing so) there is no requirement to record this as a absence.
  • If the employee does not test positive for COVID-19 they can return to work if well enough to do so and the absence ended on iTrent. If they test positive for COVID-19 the Suspected COVID-19 absence must be ended on iTrent and a new Confirmed COVID-19 absence recorded.
  • Managers will receive an email alert from iTrent once the employee has been absent due to Suspected COVID-19 for 7 calendar days reminding them to end the absence and create a Confirmed COVID-19 absence if appropriate.

Confirmed COVID-19

  • If an employee tests positive for COVID-19 they must continue to self-isolate for the remainder of the 10 days and the absence recorded on ITrent, as detailed in the matrix, unless they are well enough and able to work from home.
  • If an employee’s symptoms continue beyond the 10 days, they can self certify for 1 week.
  • If an employee’s absence continues beyond 21 days and the reason is still due to COVID-19, the employee must submit a fit note and if this states Long COVID (also referred to as Post Virus COVID, Long Tail COVID, Ongoing Symptomatic Covid) the absence should be recorded in accordance with the absence matrix. See section below on Long COVID for further information.
  • If the absence reason is no longer COVID related then the Confirmed COVID-19 absence must be ended and a new sickness absence record created on iTrent.
  • Managers will receive an email alert from iTrent once the employee has been absent due to Confirmed COVID-19 for 21 calendar days reminding them to end the absence and create a Long COVID-19 absence if appropriate.

Further information on self-isolation can be found here.

Long COVID Absence

Where an employee submits a fit note for long covid (also referred to as Post Virus COVID, Long Tail COVID, Ongoing Symptomatic Covid) this will be recorded as Long COVID special leave for up to a period of 9 weeks, after which it must be recorded as a sickness absence.

Managers will receive an email alert from iTrent once the employee has been absent due to Long COVID – Special Leave for 9 weeks reminding them to end the absence and create a sickness absence record if the employee remains absent.

A new Long COVID Guidance is available for Managers on how to support employees with Long COVID and what action requires to be taken throughout the duration of the absence. However managers must ensure that they seek advice from Employee Relations before proceeding with any formal action. 

Where employees are experiencing COVID-19 related stress or anxiety, they may contact you to say they are unable to attend work due to this reason. In this circumstance, they should be recorded as sickness absence, in accordance with the matrix.

Long Term absences related to the above will be managed as normal through the Supporting Attendance policy and procedure. Managers are advised to seek advice from Employee Relations before taking any formal action. Further information on supporting staff experiencing COVID-19 related stress/anxiety can be found here

*Please note sickness absences related to COVID-19 will not count towards absence triggers for the purposes of formal action.

COVID-19 Vaccine Reaction

If an employee reports unfit for work due to a reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine the manager must record this as a sickness absence on iTrent (see matrix) and the absence should be managed as normal in accordance with the managing attendance policy. Information on the COVID-19 vaccination can be found here.   

Occupational Health Support

Occupational health support can be provided for any employee who is concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on attendance at work. Further guidance on making a referral can be found here

Should you require further guidance please contact an Employee Relations Advisor who can talk you through the process.

Updated on 22nd November 2021

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