COVID special leave granted to NHS Scotland staff: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

When on Covid Special Leave after testing positive for Covid were NHS Scotland staff paid sick leave based on the previous 3 months at work, as set out in Scale of Allowances Section 14.4 of the NHS Scotland Policies?

Did section 14.4 Scale of Allowances from the NHS Scotland Policies still apply to NHS staff absent on Covid Special Leave after testing positive for Covid?

Should NHS staff in Scotland have received reduced pay when absent on Covid Special Leave after testing positive for Covid than when at work?


Section 14 of the Scottish Agenda for Change Handbook – uploads/AfC-Handbook-Master-Scottish-Copy-2021-Revamp.pdf sets out sick leave arrangements for Agenda for Change staff in Scotland and section 14.4 clarifies the definition of full pay as “what the individual would have received had he/she been at work”. The specific methodology of how this is calculated is set locally in partnership.

From the beginning of the outbreak in 2020 staff absent with COVID-19 were placed on Special Leave as per DL(2020)05 –

This attracts full pay as per para 14.4 of the Agenda for Change Handbook. These Special Leave arrangements meant that staff continued to receive full pay for the duration of their COVID-19 related absence and this was confirmed to the service by DL(2020)30 –

On 31 August 2022, the arrangement which provided indefinite Special Leave for COVID-19 sick absence ended in Scotland and from that date COVID-19 absence was covered by Section 14 of the Agenda for Change Handbook and the relevant Workforce Polices as with all other sick leave for Agenda for Change staff. This was confirmed to the service by DL(2022)21 –

Staff required to be absent for infection control purposes continued to receive Special Leave, however.The parameters of this were first set out in DL(2022)12 –

And subsequently amended by DL(2022)32 –

Both Special Leave and Sick Leave are paid in Scotland based on “full pay”, as defined in Section 14 of the Handbook. The only difference is that COVID-19 related Sick Leave now counts towards a staff member’s overall sickness record.

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Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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