Keep Britain Paid: Statutory Sick Pay Guidelines for employers

24 March 2020 - Reading time: 4 Minutes

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COVID-19 is shaking up businesses all over the UK. With a lot of change around Statutory Sick Pay guidelines, we’re here to make sense of it all and support you during this period of uncertainty.

The government has provided the following advice to help businesses take care of their employees during this crisis:

Statutory sick pay guidelines for employers

If your employee can’t work as a result of being advised to self-isolate or due to illness, they will be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP), even if they are not sick themselves. Employers should use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate in making decisions about sick pay.

Anyone not eligible to receive sick pay, including those earning less than an average of £118 (£120 from 6th April 2020) per week, some of those working in the gig economy, or self-employed workers, will be eligible to claim Universal Credit and/or contributory Employment and Support Allowance.

For those on a low income and already claiming Universal Credit, it should automatically adjust depending on people’s earnings or other income. However, if someone needs money urgently, they can apply for an advance through the journal.

Do employees need medical evidence for sickness?

Your employees don’t need to provide medical evidence for the first seven days of sickness. After seven days, employers can use their discretion around the need for medical evidence if an employee is staying at home.

Employers should also use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to stay at home, either because they are unwell themselves, or live with someone who is, in accordance with the public health advice issued by the government. However, If evidence is required to cover self-isolation or household isolation beyond the first 7 days of absence then employees can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online or from the NHS website.

Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees

The government is bringing forward emergency legislation to allow small-and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme is:

  • The refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.
  • Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020.
  • Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19.
  • Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website.
  • The eligible period for the scheme begun from Friday 13th March 2020.
  • The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.

Who’s eligible for the scheme?

You’re eligible for the scheme if your business is UK based and is classed as small or medium-sized and employs fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020.

How to access the scheme?

A rebate scheme is being developed. Further details will be provided in due course once the legalisation has passed. We aim to keep you in the loop, so please keep checking back here for more details.

What to do if an employee needs time off work to look after someone?

Employees are entitled to take time off work to help someone who depends on them (a ‘dependant’) in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations related to coronavirus (COVID-19). For example:

  • If employees have children they need to look after, or arrange childcare for, because their school has closed.
  • To help their child, or another dependant, if they’re sick, or need to go into isolation or to hospital.

There’s no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.

If you have any more questions Statutory Sick Pay, please join our webinar on Thursday 26 March. Our payroll expert, Simon Parsons, will be answering your questions around sick pay, furlough and more.

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