SSP relaxations during the COVID-19 pandemic
In his Budget on 11 March 2020, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced a package of measures to help businesses and individuals negotiate the coronavirus pandemic. The measures included a temporary relaxation of the statutory sick pay (SSP) rules.
During the pandemic, employers will be able to pay SSP to employees from the first day of absence – employees will not need to serve the three waiting days before receiving SSP. Further, availability of SSP will be extended and will be available to employees who have been asked to self-isolate, even if they are not sick themselves, for example, where a member of their household displays COVID-19 symptoms.
Employees can self-certify absences up to seven days. To relieve burdens on GPs, employers will not need to obtain a fit note from employees for absences exceeding seven days. A temporary alternative to the fit note is being introduced which will be available from NHS-111, but the Government have advised employers to use their discretion in requiring medical evidence from employees.
The Government are also to allow employers with fewer than 250 employees as at 28 February 2020 to recover SSP paid for COVID-19 absences. The refund will be capped at two weeks’ SSP per employee. However, as SSP cannot normally be reclaimed, there are no procedures in place as yet to facilitate refunds. The Government have stated that they will work with employers over the coming months to set up a refund mechanism. It is important that clients paying SSP for COVID-19 absences keep records of the staff absences and the SSP paid to support refund claims once these are available.
Written by the Tax Advice Network