The special benefit was introduced on 12 February to allow people to make online claims without visiting a GP, if they needed to self-isolate in line with public health advice for reasons such as displaying symptoms of the virus or living in a household with people who had tested positive.
But with greater availability of testing, Social Security Minister Judy Martin has moved to update the policy in an effort to encourage as many Islanders as possible to take swab tests.
She has signed off a decision requiring anyone who refuses a test when applying online for Covid-19 sickness benefit to provide a valid reason – such as a physical ailment or mental health issue – on the request form.
The report accompanying the minister’s decision says: ‘Over time the capacity of jurisdictions to offer PCR tests for Covid-19 has improved dramatically. All travellers arriving in Jersey may access PCR tests and those who refuse a test are required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days.
‘Public Health are seeking to maximise the number of people who opt to take the PCR test rather than self-isolation and to support this policy the Social Security Minister has decided that sickness benefit will not be made available to people who refuse a test without a valid reason.
‘Valid medical reasons will include people who have physical conditions affecting their nose and throat so that they cannot tolerate the test and mental health conditions, including learning disabilities that render the test, and close physical contact too distressing.
‘Therefore the online form will be amended to collect information from the claimant by which they can declare and evidence the valid medical reason under which they refuse a PCR test and wish to claim 14 days of sickness benefit.’
It adds that claimants will also be asked to provide supporting evidence for any medical reasons why they may refuse tests.