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Changes to Statutory Sick Pay entitlement for Covid-19 related absences

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5th April, 2022

Changes previously brought in for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to allow those self-isolating due Covid-19 being entitled to SSP came to an end on 24 March 2022.

Now the pre-pandemic SSP rules apply (e.g. to qualify: you must be an employee, earn on average £123 per week, and have been ill for at least 4 days in a row (including non-working days)).

Therefore, it is now not sufficient that an employee is just absent from work self-isolating as a result of Covid-19 to qualify for SSP.

In terms of practically applying the rules to the workforce if an employee tests positive for Covid-19 and they deem themselves fit to attend work then they are not “ill” for the purposes of SSP.

Similarly, if an employee is well enough to work whilst positive with Covid-19; it would not be reasonable to expect the employee to not be paid if they are required to stay home as a result of company policy and are unable to work from home.

Employer’s will need to consider whether they are wanting their employees to remain at home whilst they are positive with Covid, because if they deem themselves fit to work, they are entitled to full pay.

In respect of those individuals that test positive, the government has not yet updated their guidance in respect of whether they must inform their employer about receiving a positive test. Previously, employees could be fined for not doing so, however currently there is no guidance to suggest what an employee’s obligation is.

Employer’s will be reliant on employee’s being honest as to whether they have Covid-19 symptoms, and/or informing their employer of any positive test results with no symptoms. However, if an employer is offering full pay to those employees who are self-isolating, this will arguably be less of a risk, but employers do need to consider the implications if employees are not entitled to company sick pay and/or SSP and want to avoid those with Covid-19 symptoms to be honest about their symptoms if they are coming into the workplace.  If employees know that they will not receive pay because they are well enough to work, despite a positive test, then there is more of a risk that employees will not tell employers about positive results.

Recommendations 

Employers should develop, implement and communicate their own policies about what happens when a member of staff tests positive, and they are unable to work from home. Therefore, it will be employers’ discretion if you want your employees to self-isolate as a result of a positive test, however employers cannot claim SSP whilst doing so, unless the individuals are ill as a result and therefore employers should communicate their policy on whether employees will be paid company sick pay during any period of remaining at home.

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