Please note: The information contained in this article is correct as of 06/01/21. Due to the ongoing nature of the coronavirus pandemic, guidance and legislation is subject to change so we would always advice you speak with a solicitor if you require specific advice.

We are only a few days into the New Year but it’s clear that many employers and also employees have missed this temporary yet important update to employment law and HR working practices.

As of the 17th December 2021, employees can now self-certify sickness for up to 28 days. Employee self-certification for sickness was previously only 7 days.

Employees will only need to attend a GP for a ‘fit note’ if they have been ill for more than 28 days and have taken sick leave. This includes non-working days, such as weekends and bank holidays.

It is important to note, however, that this new legislation is only temporary at this stage and will apply to periods of sickness between 17 December 2021 and 26 January 2022 or those that commenced before 17 December 2021 but that on 17 December 2021 have lasted for no longer than seven days.

According to the Government, this measure is “intended to increase General Practice (GP) capacity to support the coronavirus vaccine booster programme by reducing the need for employees to visit their GP for medical evidence for the purposes of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)”.

For further details, you may wish to review one of the shortest statutory instruments ever made, The Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Regulations 2021.

This is an important change to employment law which came into effect last month but seems to have gone relatively under the radar, perhaps overshadowed by the excitement of the festive period.

Naturally, this will have an impact on workplace disputes and employers will have uncertainty about their staffing and resources for a longer period than anticipated. This will also inevitably cause delay in some disciplinary and grievance procedures; impacting on management time and business operations.

Here we have yet another example of how Covid-19 continues to impact significantly on employment law and businesses.

Farleys Solicitors specialise in all areas of HR and employment law for employers and employees. If you require advice and assistance in relation to any of the issues raised in this article or brought about by the pandemic, please contact Farleys’ Employment Law & HR team on 0845 287 0939 or contact us by email.