Some of the many new initiatives/legislative changes the Government has been rushing through in response to the coronavirus crisis are a number of temporary changes to statutory sick pay (SSP) arrangements.
If you’re unsure about what’s different and what you should be doing, here’s a quick summary of the four changes you need to be aware of;
1. When SSP is payable from
SSP is normally payable from day four of a period of absence, with the first three days being ‘waiting days’, during which an employee is either unpaid, or is paid by the employer according to an enhanced sick pay scheme or on a discretionary basis. For absences from 13 March 2020 onwards which are related to coronavirus and subject to SSP, those waiting days are disapplied, with SSP being due from day one.
2. SSP being reclaimable
Normally a business cannot reclaim statutory sick pay (although this did used to be possible), and it is completely funded by the employer when someone is eligible for it. For employers with fewer than 250 staff, the cost of SSP paid to employees who are absent because of coronavirus will be refunded by the Government, to a maximum of 14 days absence.
3. Who is entitled to SSP
Normally to be entitled to statutory sick pay a person must be physically unfit for work – too unwell to do their job. The entitlement for SSP has been significantly relaxed and broadened to include those who might be perfectly well, but who are staying at home to isolate in line with guidance from Public Health England, Public Health Wales or NHS National Services Scotland advice. This guidance has changed a number of times already as the coronavirus situation progresses, so if you have an employee who informs you they are self-isolating, you can ask for the reason and then check the current guidance online to see whether they fit into one of the relevant categories.
4. Evidence required to support payment of SSP
Normally to be entitled to SSP, an employee must providing certification of their lack of fitness to work. This comes in the form of self-certification for the first seven calendar days, and a ‘fit note’ from their GP or another doctor thereafter, covering the period of absence.
Online ‘isolation notes’ have now been introduced, available through the NHS website or NHS 111. People who are self-isolating can answer a few questions, with an isolation note then being sent to them (or direct to their employer) via email, and this is acceptable evidence in support of payment of SSP.
These changes are temporary and specifically to deal with the coronavirus crisis, and are currently due to expire eight months after they came into force, however clearly the arrangements may be extended if this becomes necessary.
If you’d like any advice on who is entitled to SSP and how you should administer it at this time, do get in touch.