COVID-19 Statutory Sick Pay

BLOG21st Mar 2020

Amidst growing concern for the nation’s health, we take a look at what measures the government has taken to alleviate the pressure on businesses and to support employees during these testing times. 

Business with less than 250 employees are to be reimbursed for the cost of paying for 2 weeks of COVID-19 related statutory sick pay (SSP) per employee.  This will mean that for 2 million employers they will receive funding of up to £2 billion to pay for the cost of largescale sick leave. Eligible employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for those who have claimed SSP in accordance with the new SSP eligibility criteria. The size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020. 

Those who are eligible will now be able to claim SSP either upon diagnosis of COVID-19 or if they have been told to self-isolate in line with government advice. The rules around paying SSP, currently paid at £94.25 per week, have been relaxed in order to help both businesses and employees.  The 3 waiting days have been waived meaning that from day 1 of coronavirus related absence employees will be paid. 

Those who have been advised to self-isolate for COVID-19 will be able to obtain an alternative to the fit note to cover their absence by contacting NHS 111, rather than visiting a doctor. They can use this where their employers need evidence.  

If you are not eligible for SSP, for example if you are self-employed or earn below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support AllowanceFor the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating according to government advice, ensuring that self-employed claimants will receive support.  People will be able to claim Universal Credit and receive advance payments upfront without having to attend a jobcentre if they are advised to selfisolate. Contributory Employment and Support Allowance will be payable, at a rate of £73.10 a week if you are over 25, for eligible people affected by COVID-19 or selfisolating in line with advice from Day 1 of sickness, rather than Day 8. 

A dedicated helpline has been set up to help both businesses and self-employed individuals that find themselves in financial distress and those who have outstanding tax liabilities will also receive support with their tax affairs.  Businesses may also be able to arrange a Bespoke Time to Pay Arrangement should they require it. 

If you are unsure about what Government support package is available to your business, we are here to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to find out more about how we can help.

By Katy Christiansen, Payroll & Employment Taxes Partner

Find out more about Katy and our dedicated Payroll & Employment Taxes team.

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