In order that people adhere to the “stay at home” policy the government has now confirmed that “isolation notes” for proof of absence from work in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19) can now be obtained without contacting a doctor.

The notes will confirm to employers that the worker has been advised to self-isolate due to coronavirus (COVID-19) either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and as a result cannot work.

As workers can already self-certify for the first seven days, they do not need any evidence from their employer to cover that period. Government guidance also strongly suggests that even after that period “employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence.”

Where an employer requires evidence of sickness absence proving that the worker has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or is living with someone who has symptoms, the isolation note can be used to provide evidence of the advice to self-isolate.

The notes can be accessed through the NHS website and NHS 111 online. After answering a few questions, an isolation note will be emailed to the user. If the user does not have an email address, they can have the note sent to a trusted family member or friend, or directly to their employer. The service can also be used to generate an isolation note on behalf of someone else.

Only those individuals who need to claim Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance because of coronavirus (COVID-19) will not be required to produce a fit note or an isolation note.

Self-isolation means avoiding all social contact, remaining at home and only allowing essential visitors, such as NHS or care workers, in the event that someone in the household shows symptoms of the virus. Current advice is to self-isolate at home for seven days if the worker has symptoms, or 14 days if another member of their household demonstrates symptoms.

Self-isolation is different from “shielding”, which involves measures to protect extremely vulnerable people who live in their own home by minimising their interaction with others. Generally, these are people with underlying health conditions such as transplant recipients, people with certain cancers, people with severe respiratory conditions, people on immunosuppression therapies and pregnant women with significant heart disease.

NHS England and NHS Wales have written to those who are extremely vulnerable and government guidance strongly advises that they stay at home and avoid face-to-face contact for 12 weeks from the day they receive the letter from the NHS.

Articles shared by Thompsons relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) are correct at the time of publication. You should check the government's guidelines for the latest information and advice at