The RCN has called on UK governments to ensure that health and care staff do not suffer any financial detriment or loss of pay for being away from work in order to protect public safety.
Please be aware that this advice does not apply if you are self-isolating due to travel. Please see our travel section.
NHS staff self-isolation pay
If you work in the NHS you should receive full pay, inclusive of all enhancements when self-isolating in line with the official guidance. This means you should be paid what you would have otherwise earned if you were not in isolation, including any pay enhancements, such as unsocial hours.
If you’re unsure, speak to your employer to find out what reference period they will be using to calculate your ‘normal’ pay. In the NHS, this should be in line with section 13 of the NHS terms and conditions handbook (annual leave and holiday pay). Please see the NHS employers FAQs on pay for more information.
If you work for an outsourced service or an organisation providing commissioned NHS services in England, you will also be entitled to full pay when self -isolating. If you are unclear about this, check with your employer. Also, check your employers’ local policy for any reference period.
For more information on pay when self-isolating, see guidance issued by governments from across the UK here.
Independent sector self-isolation pay
We expect all other health and care employers to pay their staff full pay during COVID-19 related absences.
If you are self-isolating (apart from reasons relating to travel) and have not been paid your normal full pay, you need to raise the issue with your employer and ask the reason for this in writing. You can use this template letter to email or write to your manager asking for full pay for your COVID-19 related absence. This should be done before contacting the RCN for further advice.
If you have your employer’s written response (or they haven't responded within a few days) and you haven’t been able to resolve the issue, you should raise your concerns with your local RCN representative directly or by contacting us.
Bank workers self-isolation pay
If you are an NHS bank worker, you will be entitled to full pay when self-isolating in line with the official stay at home guidance (apart from reasons relating to travel).
In England and Scotland, you should receive full pay based on a “look back” approach, using a reference period of work previously worked or on the work you had booked prior to going into self-isolation. Where employers are paying self-isolating bank workers on a “look back” approach, they are encouraged to use the reference period with section 13 of the NHS terms and conditions handbook (annual leave and holiday pay). Check the bank’s policy for more information.
In Wales, if you need to self-isolate you will be paid for any booked shifts which need to be cancelled.
In Northern Ireland, you should receive full pay whilst self isolating for all pre-booked shifts. In the case of bank staff who regularly work shifts, but do not have any shifts booked at the time, a 13 week "look back" approach may be taken however this will be assessed on a case by case basis. Please see the questions and answers for HSC staff
NHS Professionals should be following the same approach as NHS banks. For more information, see the NHSP FAQs.
Agency workers self-isolation pay
The RCN is clear that all health and care staff including agency workers should not experience any financial detriment due to COVID-19 related absences. If your isolation is related to travel, please see our travel section.
In the first instance please speak directly to the agency about their policy in this situation. You should also ask what, if any, arrangements will be made to pay agency workers during periods of COVID-19 related self-isolation.
You may also want to consider joining your local NHS bank or taking a fixed term contract during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure you are entitled to full pay if you need to self-isolate.
If you are told that you will not receive any pay for a period of self isolation, please see our section on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) below.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
See our sick pay section below if you are too unwell to work as a result of COVID-19. As from 24 March 2022, you are no longer entitled to SSP from day one of any absence due to COVID-19 and the normal SSP rules now apply. For more information you can see the ACAS website.
Special payments if unable to work
If you work in England and have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and you are unable to work from home, are on a low income, and will lose pay as a result, you may be eligible for £500 from your local authority under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme. This scheme ended on 24 February however if you were required to self isolate prior to this date, you can apply for up to 42 days after your first day of isolation.
For Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, please see the links below:
Support funds for social care workers
Northern Ireland: Questions and answers for HSC staff
Scotland: Coronavirus (COVID-19): social care staff support fund guidance
Wales: COVID-19 statutory sick pay enhancement scheme