Further to our previous updates on this matter (Handling workplace issues as a result of coronavirus and Workplace Strategy), we continue with our COVID-19 series of updates which include the latest measures by the government to help small businesses cope with the cost ramifications of paying SSP to their staff
We recommend you to check out our COVID-19 dedicated page where you can find a wide variety of information on coronavirus including health and safety obligations of employers, among others.
SSP payable to staff in self-isolation due to COVID-19
Under the Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) Regulations 2020 which are in force today (13 March 2020), employers will have to pay SSP to staff who are self-isolating in order to prevent infection or contamination with coronavirus disease, and are therefore unable to work. Such isolation must adhere to guidance published by Public Health England, NHS National services Scotland or Public Health Wales.
The government has announced that it will bring forward emergency legislation to provide that sick pay will be available from the first day of sickness absence but this legislation has not been published. The initial announcement was made by the Department for Work and Pensions on 4 March 2020.
Spring Budget – Support for businesses in relation to COVID-19
The government has announced new measures to refund SSP paid out by employers with fewer than 250 employees in an effort to help businesses suffering from the ramifications of the coronavirus although it is not yet clear when this new legislation will come into force.
Eligibility criteria for this scheme are:
- Refund is limited to two weeks per employee.
- Scheme only applies to employers with fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020.
- Employers can reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP as a result of COVID-19.
- Employers should maintain records of staff absences although employees do not need provide a GP fit note.
- Eligible period will start on the day on which the regulations extending SSP to self-isolators come into force.
- Government will work with employers over the coming months to set up a repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.
We recommend that employers continue to keep matters under review including any updated government guidance as well as NHS advice on this matter. Given the maximum refund payable to employers is two weeks' worth of SSP, if you have an enhanced sickness policy you will have to cover the excess. We recommend that all working-from-home records are kept securely and properly maintained. We will continue to update you on this matter as it progresses.