Coronavirus: affected staff to get statutory sick pay from day one
The Government has extended the right to statutory sick pay (SSP) as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Employees who are not sick but who are required to self-isolate will be entitled to SSP. In addition, those diagnosed with the virus or who are required to self-isolate will be entitled to SSP from the first day of absence, instead of having to wait for three days.
Who does this affect?
- First of all, anyone diagnosed with the coronavirus, provided they meet the normal qualifying conditions for SSP. This includes having average weekly earnings at or above the lower earnings limits (currently £118 per week and rising to £120 from 6 April). As they are unwell, they are entitled to SSP and they will be entitled from the first day of absence
- Those who self-isolate but only where they have received a written notice from a health professional (their GP or 111) that they should do so - because they are known or reasonably suspected to be infected or contaminated by the coronavirus, or because they have been in contact with a case of the coronavirus. The government guidance on who will be required to self-isolate is constantly being updated but currently covers:
- People who are waiting for a COVID-19 test result
- People identified as being a close contact of someone with coronavirus
- Returning travellers (depending on where they have travelled from, they may have to self-isolate even if they have no symptoms)
This does not cover those who self-isolate because they are worried about catching the virus.
These measures are part of the government’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus, amidst concerns that people will continue to go to work if they are not going to be paid. For similar reasons, employers who pay company sick pay will want to consider extending it to those who are required to self-isolate, although if they can work from home this will be a better option.
Whilst these changes are welcome, there are still many people who do not qualify for SSP, for example the self-employed and those who do not earn enough. Unions have called for the government to support these people too.
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