We recently reported that an employee who self-isolates because they are suffering from the symptoms of coronavirus/COVID-19, may be entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). SSP is currently paid at a rate of £94.25 per week (to increase to £95.85 on 6 April 2020) for up to 28 weeks from the fourth day that the employee is unable to work.
Since that report, new legislation has been introduced which provides that any employee who is self-isolating in accordance with government guidance will be entitled to SSP.
At the date of first publication, the relevant new legislation stated that the change to persons entitled to SSP would be effective from 13 March 2020. However, further changes have since been made to the relevant legislation which mean that an employee who self-isolates is actually entitled to SSP from 17 March 2020, rather than 13 March 2020.
Additionally, in a recent update, the Chancellor announced that new measures including £30 billion of tax reliefs and loans would be implemented to support small-and-medium-sized businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Among other things, the support plan will allow some employers to reclaim SSP paid for sickness absence.
Within this announcement, the government confirmed that emergency legislation will be brought forward to provide that SSP will be payable from the first day that an employee is off work and that this change will have retrospective effect from 13 March 2020. The draft Coronavirus Bill has been released today and you may read the draft Bill here. In the meantime, the government is encouraging employers to pay employees who are affected by coronavirus from the first day of absence, with immediate effect.
The draft Coronavirus Bill states that all changes made under the Act will be temporary and apply for a period of two years from the date it is passed. However, the legislation that provided for the change to eligibility for SSP is due to remain in force until mid-November 2020, but expressly states that this will be kept under review.
We will continue to closely monitor economic, business and legislative developments in this area.