COVID-19: your wellbeing

Managing sickness and return to work

Location: UK
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Wednesday 9 June 2021
Topics: COVID 19, Your wellbeing

You should not be expected to work when you are unwell.

If you are too unwell to work, whether due to COVID-19 or any other illness, you should claim sickness absence as you normally would.

You should never feel that you are being pressured to attend work when you are not fit to do so.

You should also:

  • familiarise yourself with your employer’s return to work policy. Does it take account of the known risks relating to COVID-19, including assumptions of immunity against the virus?
  • ensure regular communication with your employer while on absence leave
  • ask your employer about access to a local occupational health service and a health and safety risk assessment upon returning to work
  • meet with your employer on your return to work, or as soon as reasonably practicable thereafter to agree an individualised plan for return.


If you become unwell at work

Working when unwell risks your health and wellbeing, and potentially undermines public health policy on preventing COVID-19 transmission. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, you must prioritise self-care and manage your health, including following NHS self-isolation guidance.

You should book a test.

This will allow you, if you are free of COVID-19, to return to work once you are well enough to do so or, if you test positive for COVID-19, ensure you are immediately notified and can begin a period of self-isolation.


If you need to self-isolate

If you are self-isolating, you should follow official NHS guidelines which advise individuals to:

  • not leave your home for any reason
  • not go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online - many smaller local shops now have delivery services, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
  • not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home.

You should also:

  • talk to your employer about working remotely; they should support you to do so
  • ensure your employer provides you with clear guidelines on when to self-isolate.


Your wellbeing

We have a range of services to support you.

  • Counselling
  • Peer support
  • UK wellbeing support directory

Call our free and confidential helpline on 0330 123 1245

View our services