Usually when an employee is absent from work due to illness, employers allow an employee to self-certify the illness for seven days and then require a GP fit note for longer periods. This is also the certification requirement for Statutory Sick Pay (“SSP”).
Employers should be aware that the self certification provisions for SSP have temporarily changed from 7 days to 28 days under the Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) (Modification) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021.
This temporary change applies to spells of incapacity for work which either start during the period 17th December 2021 to 26th January 2022 or which commence prior to the 17 December but have not lasted more than 7 days on that date (and hence the requirement to provide medical evidence has not yet arisen).
It seems the purpose of this provision is to relieve pressure on GP’s whilst the Covid vaccine booster programme is being rolled out.
Whilst these provisions are relevant to SSP, as many employers require a GP note for after 7 days of absence for occupational sick pay or for their own absence management procedures, this change could impact on the operation of those policies. Employers should be aware that employees may not be able, or may have difficulty in obtaining, fit notes from their GPs for periods of absence that last less than 28 days during the period up to 26th January 2022.
Should you require any further information or advice on dealing with specific issues (such as the above) or employment matters generally, please contact any member of the Employment Law Unit:-
Tel: 028 9024 5034
Copyright 2022 Elliott Duffy Garrett
Every care has been taken in the preparation of this bulletin; readers are advised however to seek legal advice in relation to specific issues.