Sounds like a riddle? Welcome to the Covid world of 2022!

We have been asked about a particular scenario several times recently, so we thought we would share the scenario, and our opinion on how to manage it, with you.

“My staff member is booked in for surgery. They have asked for a week off work prior to surgery, to avoid contracting Covid and having to postpone their surgery. What leave can they take?”

Our Opinion
Technically the employee is not sick, so here is how we would handle this request…

  • As a good employer, you would look to accommodate this request.
  • If the employee can work from home, discuss this as an option.
  • Assuming the employee is not sick during the week before the surgery then they should…..
    o Apply for leave
    o Take it as annual leave, and if the employee does not have enough leave available then look to use:
    – Alternative leave if they have any
    – Leave without pay
  • If the time off work is agreed, it’s the employee’s choice whether to cover the time off by using paid leave. Unless they are actually sick, it’s not sick leave.
  • If the leave request cannot be accommodated, work with the employee to put good protocols in place for the week to keep the employee as healthy as possible leading up to their surgery.

Note: The employee isn’t isolating with Covid or a household contact, so the Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme doesn’t apply.

Quick Update on Covid Support Available

Summary of Covid support currently available for businesses and employees.

  1. COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme
    Available to employers, including self-employed people, to help pay their employees who must self-isolate because of COVID-19 and can’t work at home during that period. To be eligible for at least one payment of the Leave Support Scheme your employee will have been required to self-isolate for at least 4 consecutive calendar days.This means your employees:
    o Can’t come into work because they are in one of the affected groups and must self-isolate, and
    o Are unable to work from home.
  2. COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment
    Available to employers, including self-employed people, to help pay their employees who cannot work from home while they (or their dependent) wait for a COVID-19 PCR test result.Note: You can’t get the Short-Term Absence Payment when you or your employee take a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) because the results are almost instant.
  3. Extra support while isolating
    If an employee needs extra support while they are self-isolating because of COVID-19, Work and Income may be able to help them.

Full details of the support options can be found on

As always, please give us a call on 07 823 3250 if you need any assistance.

Please note: This information is offered as a guide only and for any situation you may be facing we recommend that you obtain independent professional advice. Of course People in Mind can provide that advice – just call us or email us and we will be in touch.