The NHS note gives employees evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate, and therefore cannot work or must work from home. The hope is that it’ll reduce pressure on GP surgeries and stop people needing to leave their homes.
Currently, people should stay at home if they have symptoms of coronavirus. This includes either a high temperature, where you feel hot to touch on your chest or back; or a new, continuous cough.
While previous advice suggested the key symptom was a dry cough, the advice now is any cough is considered a symptom. ‘Continuous’ refers to if you’ve been coughing a lot for more than an hour, or have had three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours.
If you have to self-isolate but feel well enough to work, ask your employer if you can work from home – in this instance, you won’t need an isolation note. However, some employees are unable to work from home, or their employers are not giving them the option to do so – in this case, a note may be needed.
For the first seven days off work, employees can self-certify so they don’t need to provide a note to their employer. They just need to tell them they are self-isolating and won’t be able to come into work.
After that, however, employers may ask for evidence of sickness absence. If your absence is related to having symptoms of coronavirus or living with someone who has symptoms, the isolation note can be used to provide evidence.
How to get an isolation note
You’ll need to answer a few questions – such as if you’ve had symptoms, or if someone in your household has – as well as filling in your details. An isolation note will be emailed to you. It’s downloadable, and you’ll also be given a reference number of your note.
If you don’t have an email address, you can have the note sent to a trusted family member or friend, or directly to your employer.
The service can also be used to generate an isolation note on behalf of someone else.
People who need to claim Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance because of coronavirus will not be required to produce an isolation note.
Health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “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.”