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Coronavirus: Symptoms, Sickness & Statutory Sick Pay

Gary Green
Gary Green
April 3, 2020

The government has responded to the coronavirus by making some changes to Statutory Sick Pay. In today's article, we'll outline what you need to know if you are an employer or employee.

With the government encouraging anyone with a cough to self-isolate for 14 days, it was clear that they needed to look at the rules around Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

In this article we'll summarise the changes and let you know exactly it works. We would encourage you to check the official HMRC page for the latest updates and regulations.

If you’d like more information about all the changes so far, check out our Coronavirus Tips. And be sure to visit our Coronavirus Update page.

Coronavirus - The Basics

Employers should keep an eye on staff members for signs of coronavirus. If in doubt, please refer to the NHS page on coronavirus. However, you should pay particular attention to the following symptoms:

  • A new, continuous cough
  • A high temperature

If any of your staff show coronavirus symptoms, they should be sent home immediately. If one of your staff has helped the person who was unwell, they don't necessarily need to go home themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds.

Statutory Sick Pay - What's New?

SSP is now available for people who are staying home because of the government's advice. If someone needs to self-isolate, even if they aren't actually ill, they can claim SSP. This applies from 13th March (the regulations were announced on the 12th).

Secondly, under the old system, you only started getting your SSP from the 4th day of your illness. From now on, you will get it from day one.

Finally, you no longer need to see a doctor to prove to your employer that you are ill. The NHS is understandably too busy to spend time on compliance appointments at the moment (and doesn't want coronavirus sufferers visiting clinics if possible). You can now get certified via NHS 111 Online.

Even this step might not be necessary. The HMRC coronavirus guidance page explains:

We strongly suggest that employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to stay at home either as they are unwell themselves, or live with someone who is, in accordance with the public health advice issued by the government.

What If I'm Not Eligible?

Some people are not eligible to receive SSP, including:

  • Anyone earning less than an average of £118 per week
  • Some members of the "gig economy"
  • The self-employed

If you are in one of these groups and are forced to stay at home, you can claim Universal Credit. The rules and limits have changed in light of the coronavirus crisis, so please check the official page for all the details. You may also find the following articles useful:

Support For Self-Employed Workers During Coronavirus
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Key Takeaways

  1. If you think one of your employees has coronavirus, send them home immediately
  2. SSP is available even if you are not ill
  3. You can receive SSP from day one
  4. The rules around proving that you are ill have been relaxed
  5. If you don't qualify for sick pay, you should be able to get help via Universal Credit and/or the self-employed scheme

If you are an employer or an employee who has been affected by the coronavirus, please feel free to get in touch to talk to one of our experts.

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