Employment issues and sick pay
This wiki is intended for healthcare professionals and should not be considered medical advice.
Healthcare worker COVID-19 prevalence
Mutambudzi M, Niedwiedz C, Macdonald EB, et al (Online pub: 09 Dec 2020) Occupation and risk of severe COVID-19: prospective cohort study of 120 075 UK Biobank participants Occupational and Environmental Medicine. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2020-106731
- Healthcare workers had a more than seven-fold higher risk of severe COVID-19; those working in social care and transport occupations had a two-fold higher risk.
- Non-white essential workers had the highest risk of severe COVID-19 infection.
Raymond M Agius, Nathalie MacDermott. (18 Mar 2021) Covid-19 and workers’ protection: lessons to learn, and lessons overlooked. Occupational Medicine, 2021; kqab034, https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqab034
"Research commissioned by the HSE long before the pandemic and showing the overwhelming superiority of FFPs over surgical face masks in protecting against viral aerosols was not acted upon . The HSE’s extant guidance before the pandemic recommending FFPs as minimum protection against biological agents seems to remain tacitly eschewed  in spite of calls to apply precautionary principles [8,9] in PPE especially in respect of HCWs."
March for Change Petition: Recognise long Covid as an occupational disease
NHS Employer COVID sickness absence policy
NHS Staff Council Executive, NHS Employers (June 2021). Management of long-term COVID-19 sickness absence
"Any sickness absence related to COVID-19 for AfC and medical staff should not be counted for the purposes of any sickness absence triggers or sickness management policies."
For further information, see this reference 
A guidance dated 21 September 2020 stated "This scheme allows COVID-19 sickness to be paid at full pay for a period of 365 days without any consideration for previous non-COVID sickness or length of service entitlement."  However, this may be subject to change.
The above policy initially applied to Wales too, as confirmed in a letter written by Vaughan Gething on 19 October 2020 .
UPDATE initially published 27.01.21, revised 07.07.21 (applies from 1st Dec 2020) NHS CONFEDERATION FAQS link below. Covid no longer special absence, but now considered sickness absence with special provision,full pay 12 months. Longer potentially if start of absence predates Dec 2020. After 12 months, emplyers discretion if materially supports returning to work and/ or assist recovery. Longer phased return provision, on full pay (see A1e). There is also provisions set out if employees are requiring subsequent sick leave following a return to work having been initiated, when the full/half pay entitlements have been exhausted (see A1g). NHS Wales Frequently Asked Questions for NHS Managers and Employees Updated 25 August, 2021
If the above link doesn’t work, please see the main page on the NHS Confederation website here Frequently asked questions for NHS managers and employees
UPDATE 2 - November 2021 The above policy was updated in November 2021, extending full pay to all NHS employees who are on sick leave due to Long Covid until March 31st 2022. Long COVID - Post virus sickness absence – Health & Wellbeing and rehabilitation support
To facilitate the development of a comprehensive approach to case management and to maximise the rehabilitation opportunities, the current arrangements for the full pay “top up” will be extended by 4 months to the 31st March 2022. This will apply to all individuals whose full pay was extended to 30th November 2021 and for any individual with a 12 month full pay “top up” end date, between 1st December 2021 and 31st March 2022.
The NHS Wales FAQ has been updated to reflect the November policy update. See above for link to main page, or find the FAQ PDF here.
Question 1f states “[…] the full pay “top up” will be extended by 4 months to the 31st March 2022 […]”.
Regarding pay and use of annual leave during a phased return, question 1e states: “[…] This extended period will be on full pay (what the individual normally receives when in work) and the individual will not be expected to use annual leave.“
1 April 2022 onwardsThis document covers arrangements in place after 31st March 2022. In brief:
“Half pay will therefore be re-instated for this group of staff with effect from 1st April 2022 for the length of time corresponding to each individual’s contractual entitlement to half pay i.e. based on their length of service. In addition, organisations should explore, on a case by case basis, whether the level of sick pay should be increased in line with the provisions in place to extend sick pay i.e. under paragraph 14.13 in the AfC terms and conditions of service and paragraph 225 of the M&D handbook, which allow discretion to extend sick pay up to full-pay.”
"The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport has confirmed that all employees who have contracted COVID-19 and are off sick should be on COVID Special Leave and should receive full pay until they return to work, for as long as these arrangements are in place."
GP online articles:
- Haynes L and Bostock N. Practices can use £150m COVID fund to hire locum GPs, BMA confirms - Requires registration
- Haynes L (19 Feb 2021) BMA backs MPs pushing for financial compensation for NHS staff with long COVID.
"Practices are able to apply for reimbursement to cover staff with long COVID via the £150m COVID fund. However, this funding has been allocated for several different purposes and only applies until the end of March. Guidance from NHS Employer states that clinicians with COVID-19 should receive 'full pay inclusive of all enhancements', but practices aren't contractually obliged to do this."
If PCR test negative
“The sensitivity is contested with reports suggesting that it may be as low as 60–78%” 
- Public Health England - Management of confirmed/probable/possible COVID-19 cases- flowchart
- Also see BMJ Best Practice article for criteria
Early retirement on health grounds
Ill health retirement: What are the qualification criteria? Unbiased (website).
- NHS Employers update recording COVID-19 sickness
- NHS Employers: Supporting recovery after long COVID
- NHS Employers (22 June 2021) Supporting your NHS colleagues with long COVID (webinar)
- Report COVID-19 as a work-related injury/disease/danger
- NHS T&Cs - sickness absence - section 14
- NHS T&Cs = injury allowance - section 22
- Claiming access to work during the coronavirus period - DWP leaflet
- Gov.UK Access to work/getting support if you have a disability
Occupational Medicine journal articles:
- RIDDOR and COVID: COVID-19 and Health at Work. Raymond Agius. Occupational Medicine, Volume 70, Issue 5, July 2020, Pages 349–351, https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqaa075
- Risk of COVID-19 among front-line health-care workers and the general community: a prospective cohort study. Nguyen, L. H. et al. (31 July 2020). The Lancet Public Health doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(20)30164-X
- Return to work after long COVID: Evidence at 8th March 2021. Prepared for The Health and Safety Executive Summarised in a press release by the SOM, where additional advice can also be found:
An evidence review, ‘Return to work after long COVID: Evidence at 8th March 2021’ , undertaken by an international group of experts states that return to work for an individual with long COVID often needs involvement of the recovering worker, employer, line manager, health professionals and (where available) occupational health professionals to facilitate appropriate return to work and support at work.
Leaflets on returning to work:
The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM):
- COVID-19 Return to Work Guide: for Recovering Workers. February 2021.
- COVID-19 Return to Work Guide: for Managers
- https://www.nhsemployers.org/covid19/staff-terms-and-conditions/sickness-absence NHS Employers
- NHS Employers
- ESR NHS UK
- Scottish Government
-  When to rule out COVID-19: How many negative RT-PCR tests are needed?