How does covid-19 impact your Statutory Sick Pay?

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What is SSP?

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is simply a weekly payment given to eligible employees who cannot work due to incapacity. To be eligible for SSP, an individual must: be classed as an employee; earn at least £120 per week; and have been ill or self-isolating for 4 days consecutively which includes days off. 

As from 4 April 2021, the SSP has been set to £96.35 per week for up to 28 weeks. This means employees cannot be paid less than £96.35 per week. It is possible for employees to be paid more if their employer has a sick pay scheme that offers more than £96.35 per week.

What changes were made to the SSP regime in response to covid-19?

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the SSP regime has been changed to extend eligibility so to financially support those who cannot work from home and have been instructed to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace team.

SSP is payable:

  • on the 1st day of sickness for those tested positive for coronavirus and are self-isolating for the 10-day period 
  • on the 1st day of the 10-day self-isolation period for those living with someone who is covid-positive and cannot work from home
  • on the 1st day of the 10-day self-isolation for those instructed to self-isolate from the NHS Test and Trace Service
  • on the 4th day of sickness for those who are sick for more than 3 days but do not have coronavirus

Note that clinically extremely vulnerable employees who have been “shielding” are no longer eligible for SSP as from 31 March 2021. This is because shielding has been paused in England as from 1 April 2021 so employees can no longer apply for a new or replacement shielding note. Employers do not have to pay SSP to employees who cannot work from home and choose to continue shielding post 31 March 2021.

Additionally, SSP is not payable to employees who receives an automated alert from the NHS Covid-19 app or their employer’s own contact tracing system which informs them that they have been in contact with someone who is covid-positive .This is because the current SSP regulations do not apply to those circumstances as of yet. 

What should employers do in light of these changes?

Employers should keep in mind that it is a criminal offence to knowingly allow employees to come to work when they have tested positive for coronavirus or have told to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace team/app. To eliminate liability and to create a covid-safe work environment, employers should amend their company sick pay policy in order to encourage employees to self-isolate at home in accordance with the government guidance.

Some employers can claim back up to 2 weeks of SSP payments made to their employees through the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme. Employers can use that scheme if: 

  • SSP payments have already been made to the employee
  • SSP payments are being claimed for an employee that qualifies for sick pay due to coronavirus
  • the company’s PAYE payroll scheme existed on or before 28 February 2020
  • the company has less than 250 employees at the time of 28 February 2020 across all PAYE payroll schemes.

If employers wish to use the scheme then they can make a claim using the online service which can be accessed here

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