On 17 December 2021, two pieces of legislation came into force that means an employee can self-certify sickness for 28 days rather than 7

These pieces of legislation are the Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Regulations 2021 and the Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) (Modification) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021.

As well as changing the length of time that an employee can self-certify sickness, it is worth pointing out that the legislation is time-limited:

  • They apply to any Period of Incapacity for Work (PIW) starting on or after 10 December 2021 and
  • Cease to apply to PIWs that commence on or after 26 January 2022

The Great British Regulation’s Explanatory Note confirms that the time-limited powers to increase the self-certification period are in direct response to the current Omicron wave of Covid-19 cases and the UK’s response:

‘’All General Practice teams are being asked to clinically prioritise services to free up maximum capacity to support the COVID-19 vaccination programme alongside delivering urgent or emergency care and other critical services such as cancer. That could include pausing routine and non-urgent care and redeploying staff to support the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations.

This change is, therefore, a temporary measure intended to quickly maximise GP capacity to support the coronavirus vaccine booster programme.’’

So, the headline notes for employers and bookkeepers are:

  • Employees can self-certify all absences for 28 days rather than 7 and HMRC guidance has been updated
  • This is for PIWs starting on or after 10 December 2021 but ceases to apply to PIWs that commence on or after 26 January 2022
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