Coronavirus – online isolation notes now available

23 March 2020

Rishi Sunak announced within his Budget speech, that an alternative to the fit note would be available during the coronavirus outbreak, to help contain the spread of the illness by hopefully preventing people from leaving their houses with the intention of obtaining a fit note from their GP.

For the first seven days of absence, employees can self-certify, but after that point, employers may request evidence of the sickness absence. Employers have been advised to take a flexible approach to the request for evidence, given the current circumstances, as individuals may be too unwell to provide documentation straight away.

Any individuals displaying symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online, and those living with someone symptomatic of COVID-19 can get a note from the NHS website. The NHS 111 website asks several questions, and should the answers indicate that the relevant individual is displaying symptoms of coronavirus, an isolation note will be emailed to the relevant address. If the answers are completed and suggest that the individual is not displaying symptoms of coronavirus, a page will appear to inform them of that fact.

Individuals who need to claim Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance due to coronavirus will not be required to produce either a fit note or an isolation note at present.

If an employee does not have an email address, they can have the note sent to an appointed family member or friend, or even directly to their employer. The service may also be used in order to generate an isolation note on someone else’s behalf, should they not have the ability to use the service themselves.

Matt Hancock, the health and social care secretary, commented:

“It is absolutely vital we do everything we can to ease the burden on our healthcare professionals, allowing them to spend as much time as possible with those patients that need them most.

Digital isolation notes will provide reassurance to those self-isolating and their employers while also reducing the pressure on our NHS, so they can continue doing all they can to protect the people of this country and save lives.”


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