Sickness benefit for self-isolating essential workers after legislation change

ESSENTIAL workers, who quarantined on Public Health advice at the start of the latest lockdown, might now be eligible for sickness benefit, after Employment & Social Security changed the legislation.

Employment & Social Security President Peter Roffey, pictured in December (29269615)
Employment & Social Security President Peter Roffey, pictured in December (29269615)

Essential workers, which include supermarket workers, freight operators and the emergency service staff, have been allowed to continue working during the pandemic and many cannot work from home.

Some voluntarily self-isolated at the start of the latest lockdown on Public Health advice after attending events, but were then not eligible for sickness benefit.

Now Employment & Social Security has decided to amend the legislation, which sets out rules concerning entitlement to sickness benefit.

The amendment means that an individual can be deemed to be incapable of work if the States Medical Officer of Health requests that they not attend their place of work if they might have been in contact with a case of infectious disease at a specified public gathering or place. An individual in these circumstances will be eligible to claim sickness benefit or an

equivalent amount.

Employment & Social Security President Peter Roffey said they were trying to support workers.

'We're constantly having to adapt to the multifarious difficulties that this pandemic is creating, to ensure that there are no significant gaps in the support that the government provides,' he said.

'This amendment by the committee, although technical in nature, is essential to ensure that individuals are not penalised for doing the right thing, which in this instance was observing the advice of Public Health. We will continue to monitor this ever-changing situation to ensure that individuals are given the support they need at this time.'

Some essential workers, who are now entitled to receive this payment, may have previously been told that they were not entitled to receive sickness benefit. ESS has said while this was the correct advice at the time, the position had now changed and these individuals are encouraged to contact the Sickness Benefit team by calling 222507 or by emailing

This change only applies at present to those who voluntarily followed the advice of Public Health to self-isolate, following specific public events that they attended before lockdown.

People who were subject to a compulsory self-isolation order would have already qualified for sickness benefit if they were unable to work from home.

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