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GPs may not need to sign coronavirus sick notes, Government suggests

The Government has asked employers to ‘use their discretion’ when considering medical evidence for people self-isolating due to coronavirus (Covid-19) exposure.

In an action plan set out today, the Government said it is preparing for a worst-case scenario where a fifth of the UK’s workforce will be off work at the peak of the outbreak.

However, the document suggested GPs may not be required to sign fit notes for people who have to take time off work.

It said: ‘Your employee will be advised to isolate themselves and not to work in contact with other people by NHS 111 or PHE if they are a carrier of, or have been in contact with, an infectious or contagious disease, such as COVID-19.

‘We strongly suggest that employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to self-isolate due to suspected Covid-19, in accordance with the public health advice being issued by the Government.’

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: ‘Employers have been urged to make sure they use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate in making decisions about sick pay.

‘Anyone not eligible to receive sick pay is able to claim Universal Credit and/or contributory Employment and Support Allowance.

‘We are keeping the situation under constant review and we will take appropriate measures in line with further developments.’

Under the Government’s plans, retired GPs may be called back to the workforce, non-urgent care may be delayed and health professionals will have powers to detain people in quarantine areas if they suspected them of having the virus.