As part of their plans to halt the spread of coronavirus, the Government has announced temporary changes to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Some details remain unknown pending emergency legislation but this is what we know so far.
Employees will get SSP from their first day off work, rather than their fourth
The weekly rate for SSP is currently £94.25 per week and can be paid to employees for up to 28 weeks. To qualify an employee must earn at least £118 per week. SSP is usually paid from the fourth day of sickness.
As part of the Government’s emergency legislation it has been announced that SSP will be paid from the first day an employee is off work due to Covid-19 rather than the fourth.
SSP will also extend to those who have been advised to self-isolate
As a result of the Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) Regulations 2020, which come into force today, a person who is self-isolating in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England will be deemed incapable of work for the purposes of claiming SSP. The guidance referred to in these Regulations can be found here and is likely to change as the outbreak progresses.
A temporary alternative to the usual fit for work note will be introduced
The Government has already issued guidance to employers, advising them to use their discretion not to require a GP fit note for coronavirus related absences. In addition to this, the Government has announced that it will introduce a temporary alternative to the fit note which can be used for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak. This alternative will enable people who are advised to self-isolate to obtain a notification via NHS 111 which can be used as evidence as absence from work where necessary.
The cost of SSP to employers will be reimbursed by the Government
The Government has also announced that the cost to small employers (those with up to 250 employees) of providing SSP in the above circumstances will be refunded by the Government in full, for up to 14 days. Although existing systems are not currently in place to facilitate such refunds, the Government has said that it will work to establish a repayment mechanism as soon as possible.
It is understood that all of these changes will be temporary and will apply only during the period of the coronavirus outbreak. The remaining legislation required to implement these changes is expected to be published within the next few days.
For an update on all the legal implications relating to Coronavirus please see here.
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