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The Government has changed reporting guidance for absence in light of Omicron.
Employers cannot ask for proof of sickness for those who are off sick between 10th December and 26th January until they have been off for 28 days or more, according to updated updated guidance on sickness absence reporting.
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, says the Government.
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, CEO at BrightHR, 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.”