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SSP waiting days may increase

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Covid-related statutory sick pay can be paid from the first day of absence, as the normal three-day waiting period is suspended, but how long will that suspension last?   

17th Nov 2021
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Throughout the pandemic, employers and employees have been helped by two statutory sick pay support schemes for Covid-related SSP:

  • Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (CSSPRS), that allows the reimbursement of SSP for up to 14 days for eligible employers with fewer than 250 employees; and
  • Suspension of waiting days, meaning Covid-19 related SSP would be payable from the first qualifying day rather than after three waiting days, which still applies for SSP paid for any other non-covid reason. 

Covid SSP may apply for an absence from work for Covid reasons such as infection, showing symptoms, self-isolation (including before hospital surgery) and shielding (now termed: clinically extremely vulnerable). 

Covid SSP is not payable where an employee is required to be with a child who has been sent home from school, ie they have been asked to quarantine. The reason for this is that legislation does not deem this to be a reason that the person is incapable of work.   

The coronavirus statutory sick pay rebate scheme ceased on 30 September 2021. This support scheme is unavailable to employers for Covid SSP absences after this date.

However, the suspension of waiting days continued. Although, employers should note that this support is also due to come to an end at midnight on 24 March 2022. If it does end, all SSP will once again be subject to the three waiting days.

It’s all in the legislation

For both support schemes, we have to go back to the primary legislation Coronavirus Act 2020 (CVA 2020).  For SSP, this put into place the two support schemes outlined above.

Rebate scheme ends

The CVA 2020 allowed HMRC to make regulations, and secondary social security legislation brought us the CSSPRS, effective from 26 May 2020. The Chancellor confirmed at Budget 2020 that this rebate scheme would apply only for employers with fewer than 250 employees. 

The UK government decided to close the scheme from 30 September 2021 and HMRC made closure Regulations.

The CSSPRS was closed on 30 September 2021 via the Statutory Sick Pay (Coronavirus) (Funding of Employers’ Liabilities) Regulations 2020 and the Statutory Sick Pay (Coronavirus) (Funding of Employers’ Liabilities) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020. Point 7.2 of the Explanatory Note says closure of the scheme is a UK Government decision following a review of all the support packages available to employers and business.

Suspension of waiting days

On 3 March 2020, the Prime Minister made the announcement about Covid-19 related SSP being payable from the first qualifying day in the period of incapacity for work (PIW).

Budget 2020 (point 1.94) confirmed this power would be granted ‘temporarily’ by ‘the forthcoming COVID-19 Bill’, passed on 25 March 2020, becoming the CVA 2020. Subsequent ‘suspension of waiting days’ regulations were made by HMRC under social security powers granted by the 2020 Act.

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By Paul Crowley
17th Nov 2021 20:21

Can we expect furlough to be reinstated?

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