A leaked document from the Department of Health reveals a potential plan for the introduction of a £500 payment which would be made to anyone that tests positive for COVID-19 in England.

New documents reveal that the Government may be considering offering financial support to people forced to self-isolate due to testing positive for coronavirus.

Although these documents have not yet been looked over by senior members of the Cabinet, this plan would see each person that tests positive for COVID-19 eligible to receive £500.

This comes after various sources criticised the Government for not providing low-paid workers with enough financial support, forcing these employees to go into work regardless of whether they are carrying the virus.

Recently, research conducted by the CIPD found that only a third of workers who were made to self-isolate received any financial support.

Prior to this, the Resolution Foundation discovered that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in the UK offers the lowest level of Government support across any advanced economy during COVID-19 and replaces under a quarter of an employee’s average wages.

However, if this plan is put into action, this could cost up to £453 million pounds a week which is 12 times the cost of payouts at this current time.

As it currently stands, if an employee is told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app, they may be entitled to a payment of £500 from their local authority through the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme. However, to receive this money, the employee or their partner within the same household must be receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit or other forms of benefits.

At this stage, it is unclear whether this plan will be implemented as it has not been considered by the Prime Minister.

Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula, reflects on what may happen if this payment was introduced:

Although it is yet to be confirmed if the government will do this, it is interesting that such an option is being considered instead of substantially increasing the current rate of SSP.

The immediate impact of this could be that staff are more willing to get tested for Covid-19 that may not have before, which could see increased levels of absences. However, one thing HR will not need to worry about is facilitating payment for this option, as it would come directly from the government.