Had to Self-Isolate? How Did Your Boss Respond?

Posted on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 by The Workplace AdvisorNo comments

Many of London’s office support workers are already working from home. If they’re required to self-isolate and are otherwise well, then business can often carry on as usual. At our London recruitment agency, however, we know that things aren’t always so straightforward. For example, many people in temporary jobs aren’t working from home, which makes things harder if they need to self-isolate. Parents may have to take on childcare when their young children are isolating due to a positive test in their class. There are lots of reasons why self-isolating can make work more complicated.

We know that it’s stressful and that there’s little consistency between employers. So, we thought it would be helpful for you to hear the best and worst employer responses to self-isolating staff.

Annual leave

“My boss says I have to use annual leave,” Jai explained. “Since September, I’ve had to isolate once for four days whilst waiting for a test result and another three days for childcare. Despite sharing the childcare with my wife, we’ve both now run out of annual leave. If we need to isolate again before the New Year, we don’t know what will happen.”

Dependency leave and unpaid leave

Georgina’s boss has asked her to use unpaid dependency leave. “My little one catches winter coughs and colds like everyone else,” she told us. “But every time it happens, his nursery requires a new test. Each test result takes between two and five days, and I can’t go into the office during that time. My boss says I should use dependency leave, but it isn’t paid. I’m getting really stressed but feel like I can’t say anything because at least I have a job.”

Working from home

“Fortunately, I’m already working from home,” says Ady. “As far as my boss is concerned, nothing really changes if I need to self-isolate.”

Vicki agrees. “Although I’m temping in London, the manager is happy for us to work from home if we have to self-isolate. It’s harder to do the job remotely, but at least it’s possible.”

My employer said “no”

“My boss was so cross when I told him that I’d been contacted by Test and Trace and had to self-isolate,” says Louise. “I felt under pressure to break the law. He’s told us that we aren’t to have the NHS app on our phones too. I ended up having to speak to HR, but I feel like it’s made things really bad with my boss. I know that legally he can’t say “no” to self-isolation, but that didn’t stop him making me feel bad for following the rules.”

Sick pay

“My boss has been understanding, but I know she’s frustrated,” says Rob. “It’s good that we can go straight onto SSP rather than waiting four days, but it’s still not as much as I’d normally earn. I’m worried about money. I’ve only had to self-isolate once, but that’s two weeks of less pay. If it happens again before Christmas, then it’ll be tough.”

My boss didn’t believe me

“My boss didn’t believe that I was self-isolating whilst waiting for a test result,” Jackie revealed. “She said she needed evidence. The NHS can give you a self-isolation note for over seven days, but not for a shorter period. I emailed her the test booking, but after three days, she was constantly badgering me about the result. She clearly thought I should have got it by then. In the end, I got a negative result after four days. When I got back in the office, I showed her the text message and its timing. She apologised to me, but I felt awful and it’s damaged our relationship.”

Different bosses, different approaches

At our London recruitment agency, we’re finding that the different approaches by different employers to self-insolating are either increasing or decreasing loyalty. If your employer’s response has made you question your future with them, you can register as a candidate with us and look for something new.


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