Laura Binnie and Jessica Smith, in our Employment Law team, explain the Government's emergency legislation on Statutory Sick Pay and how employers can calculate SSP.
The Government last week passed emergency legislation to amend the Statutory Sick Pay Regulations, effective from 13 March 2020. In light of this, employees who are self-isolating in line with official Coronavirus guidance are deemed “incapable of work”.
The legal definition of those “incapable of work” has now been amended to include the scenario whereby someone “is isolating himself [or herself] from other people in such a manner as to prevent infection or contamination with coronavirus disease, in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland or Public Health Wales and effective on 12th March 2020; and by reason of that isolation is unable to work.”
This means that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is payable not only to those testing positive for Coronavirus or displaying its symptoms, but also to those advised to self-isolate. The legislation should help to abate public concerns that employees will go to work during the fourteen day isolation period, despite potentially being infected or contaminated, to avoid losing pay during that time.
The weekly rate for SSP is £94.25 (for up to 28 weeks) and will rise to £95.85 from 6 April 2020. It is paid for the days an employee normally works (known as ‘qualifying days’) and in the same way as wages (i.e. on the normal payday and with income tax and National Insurance Contributions deducted). SSP is payable once an employee has been sick for at least four days in a row and payment begins on the fourth qualifying day. It was expected that the Government would confirm that the sick pay in this situation would be payable from the first day of sickness absence, but such legislation has not yet been published.
You can calculate the actual amount of an employee’s SSP via the gov.uk website.
It is important to note that SSP is generally available to “employees” only so does not apply, for example, to short term agency workers or zero hour contract workers.
The availability of SSP for those self-isolating in relation to Coronavirus is a temporary measure, due to expire in eight months, on 12 November 2020, when it will be reviewed.
Read our recent blog articles, 'Coronavirus (COVID19) - Prime Minister Announces Emergency Legislation on Statutory Sick Pay' and 'Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Advice for Employers and Employees'.
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This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.