Statutory Sick Pay and Implications of Coronavirus on Your Business

Update 20/01/20 – The Chancellor has announced financial support to businesses.  Of particular relevance for FCSA members will be grants to cover up to 80% of staff salaries up to £2,500 per month.  We are hoping that employers NICs will also be covered in addition to the 80% salary payment, and have requested urgent clarification from the government.  You can read the Chancellor’s full statement here.

Important note (added 20/03/20): financial services and payment providers are a critical sector in the UK’s response to the pandemic, and therefore children who’s parents work in these sectors will be prioritised for education provision.  Our reading of the last section of applicable government guidance is that FCSA members fall into this category. 

The new emergency SSP regulations will be backdated to be effective from 13 March 2020.  Brabners have produced a very useful article on the legal detail SSP and who qualifies.  Below are some guidance notes in relation to SSP, and other implications of coronavirus on your business (this information is correct as of 20 March 2020). 

  1. Employees will be entitled to receive SSP from day 1 of a coronavirus-related absence, whether or not they are themselves sick.
  2. Government guidance requires anyone that lives alone and has symptoms of coronavirus to self-isolate for 7 days.
  3. Everyone in a household which has someone with symptoms of coronavirus should self-isolate for 14 days.
  4. SSP will be due to employees that have coronavirus symptoms, if someone in their household has coronavirus symptoms, or if they have been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111.
  5. Employees requiring SSP should inform you of this at the earliest opportunity.
  6. To qualify for SSP your employees need to have told you they are unwell within your contractual time limit, or within 7 days if you do not have one.
  7. Due to mutuality of obligations, you should already have processes in place to check your umbrella employees’ work status, i.e. whether on assignment, off sick, on holiday etc. You should not need to contact them any more frequently than you do already.
  8. Anyone self-isolating should not need to visit a GP practice / similar clinic in person. They should not ring NHS 111 either.  Instead, they should input their symptoms into NHS 111 online, and subsequently receive advice.
  9. The NHS 111 system to apply for fit note documentation is due to go live shortly and will be retrospective.
  10. You may wish to require workers self-isolating to provide you with evidence that they have gone through the online NHS 111 process before you pay them SSP.
  11. SSP will need to be provided by the employer, it is not going to be possible to require employees to claim SSP directly from the government.
  12. If you haven’t already, you should develop contingency plans for your business, for example assessing how essential functions could be carried out by staff working remotely from home.
  13. You may want to consider planning for a worst-case scenario of the impact of a “lockdown” within the UK.
  14. Yesterday the Chancellor announced a package of financial measures to support businesses, and he expects these to start being available from early next week. The details are unclear at this stage, and we will bring you more information as it becomes available.
  15. In addition to the financial support measures, we also expect there to be considerable flexibility in delaying payments to HMRC in order to assist businesses with their cashflow.

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