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COVID-19 Information Hub

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay – Support For Businesses

On 20 March 2020, the Chancellor announced a package of support for businesses affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, including legislation to allow SMEs to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. Please read on for a summary issued by the government and our own supplementary commentary, analysis and guidance.

Updated 23/03/20

Government guidance:

Eligibility

All UK businesses that employ fewer than 250 employees (as at 28 February 2020) are eligible.

Details of the scheme:

  • the refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because 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 onlineand those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website
  • eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force

A rebate scheme is being developed. Further details will be provided in due course once the legalisation has passed.

Kirk Rice commentary:

Whilst this is clearly welcome news, the advice from HMRC lacks clarity for employers.

It is our understanding that COVID-19 related SSP applies to the following individuals:

  • Those who have symptoms of COVID-19 (however mild) and as such must stay at home and not leave their house for 7 days from when their symptoms started.
  • Those who live in a household where another member of the household has developed symptoms of COVID-19. In this situation they must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.

Some people have questioned whether individuals who are unable to work as a result of looking after their children (following the school closures) are entitled to COVID-19 related SSP.  It is our understanding that this is not the case.

COVID-19 related SSP:

  • is £94.25 per week (same rate as normal SSP).
  • will be paid from day 1 of sick leave (rather than day 4 under normal SSP).
  • Will apply retrospectively from 13 March 2020.

It is likely that any payroll software you use will not be able to cope with these changes without manual intervention.  However if we operate your payroll then we will be taking care of this for you.

There are still gaps in the government advice that need answering.  The main one being how exactly the rebate system will work, when it will be available and how long will it take for an employer to receive the reimbursement?

If you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you are self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit and/or new style Employment and Support Allowance.

If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home.

We’ll be updating this page for the answers as and when they become available, so please, do check back regularly for further information.

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