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Coronavirus and Statutory Sick Pay Entitlement: a guide for Employers and Employees

16/02/2021

Author: Bengi Karakus

Employment

Coronavirus and Statutory Sick Pay Entitlement: a guide for Employers and Employees

Coronavirus and Statutory Sick Pay Entitlement: a guide for Employers and Employees

What is Statutory Sick Pay?

By law, employers must pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to employees when they meet eligibility conditions.

An employee can get £95.85 per week SSP if they are too ill to work. This is paid by the employer for up to 28 weeks and is paid in the same way as normal pay with tax and national insurance deductions made. SSP is paid from the fourth day of sickness as the first three days of sickness are known as ‘waiting days’ where SSP is not payable. An exception may be where you are self-isolating due to coronavirus and further details will need to be checked within the employee’s employment contract to check the company’s position on the first three days of sickness.

An employee may get more than the standard SSP if their company has a sick pay scheme. This is sometimes referred to as an ‘occupational scheme’ and further details will be set out in employment contracts.

Eligibility for Statutory Sick Pay

To be eligible for SSP, an employee must:

  • Be classed as an employee and have done some work for their employer
  • Earn an average of at least £120 per week
  • Have been ill, self-isolating or ‘shielding’ for at least four days in a row
  • Give the correct notice to their employer
  • Give proof of illness to their employer, only after seven days off

An employee must tell their employer that they are unable to work before the deadline set, or otherwise within seven days, as they may lose some of their SSP if they do not notify their employer in time.

Unable to work due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

You may be entitled to SSP if you are self-isolating because:

  • You or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms, or has tested positive for coronavirus
  • You have been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that you have been in contact with someone with coronavirus
  • Someone in your ‘support bubble’ has coronavirus symptoms, or has tested positive for coronavirus
  • You have been advised by a doctor or healthcare professional to self-isolate before going into hospital for surgery

You must self-isolate for at least four days to be eligible for SSP.

You can also get SSP if both of the following apply:

  • You live or work in an area with restrictions in place (local or national) including advice to ‘shield’
  • You have been advised to shield because you are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus

You cannot get SSP if you are self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK and do not need to self-isolate for any other reason.

Sick notes and proof of illness

You only have to give your employer a sick note (fit for work note) if you are off sick for more than seven days in a row.

You can get a fit note from your doctor. If your employer agrees, a similar document can be provided by a physiotherapist or occupational therapist instead and this is sometimes called an Allied Health Professional (AHP) Health and Work Report.

If you are self-isolating and cannot work because of coronavirus, you can get an ‘isolation note’ from NHS 111 if you are off work for seven or more days. Similarly, you can get a ‘shielding note’ from your doctor advising you to shield if you are in the very high-risk category of severe illness from coronavirus. If you have been notified by the NHS that you have come into contact with someone with coronavirus, then that notification is proof.

Guide for Employers

Reclaiming Statutory Sick Pay

An employer may be able to reclaim up to two week’s SSP, up to £95.85 a week for each employee, if all of the following apply:

  • Your employee was off work because they had coronavirus, were self-isolating or shielding
  • Your PAYE payroll scheme started on or before 28 February 2020
  • You had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020

Annual Leave

Statutory annual leave is accrued while the employee is off work sick no matter how long they are off, and it can be taken during sick leave.

Record Keeping

You will need to keep records of SSP you have paid to an employee who was off work because of coronavirus if you want to reclaim it. You will need to keep the following records for three years after the end of the tax year you paid SSP:

  • Date employee was off sick
  • Which of those dates were qualifying days
  • The reason they said they were off work
  • Employee’s National Insurance number

Bengi Karakus is a Trainee Solicitor currently supporting the Hatch Brenner Dispute Resolution team gaining experience in Employment Law for Employees and Employment Law for Employers. If you would like some advice regarding your employment rights, please email info@hatchbrenner.co.uk or call 01603 660 811.

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