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SSP: Get the details right for Covid-19

Ian Holloway brings us up to date with the conditions for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), as it applies to employees affected by coronavirus.

22nd Sep 2020
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The Prime Minister announced that the Coronavirus Act would make provision to temporarily allow SSP to be paid from the first day of sickness absence, rather than the fourth day. This was for people who had been told to self-isolate and/or for people caring for those within the same household who display Covid-19 symptoms and had been told to self-isolate. 

This one announcement and subsequent developments have given rise to at least seven different pieces of secondary legislation, and counting. The reason is that the SSP regime was rigid and did not allow for Covid-19 related absences from the workplace.

Here is my summary of the amendments to the 1982 general SSP regulations for Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Isolating

The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) Regulations 2020 and The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 opened up the SSP system to employees isolating themselves. This was so long as the isolation was in accordance with guidance given by the relevant health bodies in each of the nations on 12 March 2020 (Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland, Public Health Wales or the Regional Agency for Public Health and Social Well-being in Northern Ireland).

Isolating period changes

The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2020 and The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 amended the above legislation but only in respect of the date that individuals were provided guidance. The No 2 Regulations said that SSP would be payable when isolating if the guidance was given on 16 March 2020 – this was the date that guidance changed the self-isolation period from 7 days to 14 days in some cases.

Shielding added

The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020 and the Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 opened up the SSP regime to people shielding. This was as long as the advice to shield was as a result of public health guidance issued by the various regional health bodies.

Suspension of waiting days

The Statutory Sick Pay (Coronavirus) (Suspension of Waiting Days and General Amendment) Regulations 2020 and The Statutory Sick Pay (Coronavirus) (Suspension of Waiting Days and General Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 made good on the Prime Minister’s announcement that SSP would be payable from day one, rather than day four. In covid-19 related absence, (whether actual sickness, self-isolation or shielding), the three waiting days do not apply where the first day of absence is on or after 13 March 2020.

Both of these regulations amended the overriding Social Security legislation in Great Britain and Northern Ireland that SSP would not be payable for the first three qualifying days in any period of entitlement.

The waiting days are suspended indefinitely for Covid-19 related absence, as these regulations removed the expiry provisions contained in Regulations 1, 2 and 3.

Track and trace

Where an individual has been traced and advised to self-isolate, this is a ‘relevant notification’ and The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020 in Great Britain and The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 brought these individual into the scope of being covered by the SSP regime.

Self-isolating extended

On 30 July 2020, guidance from the above public health bodies advised that an individual who had tested positive for coronavirus (or had symptoms) should self-isolate for ten days instead of seven.  The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 5) Regulations 2020 in Great Britain and The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 5) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 mean that anyone self-isolating for these reasons after 30 July 2020 can be eligible for SSP if they are incapable of work.

The impact for employers is that a person is able to self-certify for ten days rather than seven, if the absence starts after 30 July 2020, and if they have tested positive for coronavirus or have symptoms of coronavirus.

Regulation Amendment Six

From 26 August the Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 6) Regulations 2020 and the Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 6) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 bring into SSP eligibility an individual who meets all of these conditions:

  • Has received a pre-surgery notification
  • Has been advised to stay at home for a period of up to 14 days before the date on which they are to be admitted to hospital for the purpose of undergoing the procedure referred to in the pre-surgery notification; and
  • Is staying at home in accordance with that advice and incapable of work under their contract of employment

Who is eligible for Covid-19 SSP?

To be eligible the employee must meet one of the following conditions:

  • symptoms of coronavirus;
  • lives with or are in a linked or extended household with someone who has symptoms
  • has been informed that they have had contact with a person who was, at the time of the contact, infected with coronavirus
  • shielding in accordance with public health guidance
  • has tested positive for coronavirus
  • lives with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus
  • staying at home prior to being admitted to hospital

The other eligibility factors have not changed:

  1. The individual must be an employee under a contract of employment and performed some work, even if only for one minute
  2. The individual must have formed a period of incapacity for work (PIW)
  3. Have average weekly earnings equal to or above the lower earnings limit (£120 p/w for 2020/21),
  4. Notified their employer

To understand which employers can reclaim Covid-19 related SSP see my article of 21 May 2020.

Replies (1)

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By coops456
23rd Sep 2020 13:22

A concise and very useful summary, thank you.

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