It seems an eternity ago now, but before we all started obsessing about ‘furlough’ and how the Job Retention Scheme will operate, we were all obsessing about proposed change to the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) scheme instead. These changes are still important and can be summarised as follows:
1. Where an employee is incapable (or deemed to be incapable) of work because of coronavirus, they will be entitled to SSP from the first day of absence, rather than having to wait until the fourth day. This applies to any absences occurring on or after 13 March 2020;
2. A person will be deemed to be incapable of work if they are self-isolating to prevent coronavirus infection because (i) they have symptoms themselves (however mild) or (ii) they live with someone who has such symptoms;
3. Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be able to reclaim the cost of the first 14 days’ SSP from the government, where the absence is coronavirus-related; and
4. Whereas normally an employee would require a medical certificate from their doctor to claim SSP for a period of more than 7 calendar days, employees will instead be able to obtain (and submit to their employer) an ‘isolation note’ from NHS111.
We don’t yet know how long these special arrangements will remain in place. It’s also important to remember that for those who are absent from work for other reasons, the normal SSP rules are likely to apply.