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What's next for statutory sick pay?

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How have the changing rules surrounding the payment and administration of statutory sick pay impacted payroll departments and what could we see in the future?

2nd Feb 2022
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Anyone who works in payroll will agree that the rules surrounding the administration and payment of statutory sick pay (SSP) have been extremely confusing of late, as we have grappled with the impacts of coronavirus.

Rollercoaster of changes

Who could forget the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that SSP would be payable from day one as opposed to day four of absence?

The change was designed to encourage individuals who contracted coronavirus to isolate immediately. This threw payroll departments into complete chaos, as systems were built with specific formula to comply with the previous SSP rules.

We saw manual overrides become the order of the day. This also created a need for payroll departments to ask about the nature of employee absences, such as was this coronavirus-related or not? Previously, this would often have sat within the remit of human resource (HR) teams, not payroll.

Then came the not-so-succinctly titled coronavirus SSP rebate scheme. This allowed eligible organisations to reclaim up to two weeks’ SSP for employees who were off work and received SSP for a coronavirus-related absence. The scheme closed on 30 September 2021 and organisations had until 31 December 2021 to submit the associated claims.

Of course, it doesn’t just stop there. As omicron hit, the government announced the scheme would re-open for coronavirus-related absences commencing on or after 21 December 2021. The portal for employers to claim through was made available on 19 January 2022. What a rollercoaster…

A return to normality?

Amongst all this, there were also adjustments to the rules concerning self-certification periods. To allow GPs to focus on the Covid-19 vaccine booster programme, employees were able to self-certify sickness for up to 28 days, as opposed to just the first seven.

This applied to absences beginning on or after 10 December 2021, up to and including absences commencing on or before 26 January 2022. The self-certification period returned to seven days for absences that started on or after 27 January 2022.

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Replies (4)

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By Hugo Fair
02nd Feb 2022 16:19

I suspect that for most people (Employers and Employees) the question "What's next for statutory sick pay?" can be answered succinctly with ... "Who cares"!

Of course, as nicely set out in the first 1/2 of the article, the constant tinkering with the rules (and at short notice + often for only a brief window) has been a nightmare ... but one that hasn't delivered discernible benefits (either to individuals or to avowed govt policy as part of 'covid support').

The amount isn't enough either to act as a safety blanket or to encourage compliance with isolation rules - as most people simply can't survive on it alone.

The abrupt change when the topic of "A single enforcement agency" is introduced is much more interesting - albeit the cynic within my core is experiencing a certain sense of déjà vu!

Thanks (3)
By Kate Upcraft
03rd Feb 2022 13:43

Just to add the crucial piece of information for agents and employers regarding the current SSP rebate scheme, the reclaim portal closes (according to the legislation) on 24.3.22 when the coronavirus act 2020 falls away. There will be no run on after 24.3.22 as there was with the previous incarnation when claims up to 30.9.21 could me made by 31.12.21.
Given absence on 24.3.22 will not be known until after that date under normal absence reporting rules, this means effectively the cut off is much earlier in March or absence data collection routines need amending.

Thanks (2)
Replying to bassett1:
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By Hugo Fair
03rd Feb 2022 15:23

Thanks, Kate ... the practical voice of reason was needed to ameliorate my possibly overly cynical observations - and your comment is of course spot on!

Thanks (1)
Replying to bassett1:
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By Humber
04th Feb 2022 16:09

Yes, vital to say that the current SSP Rebate Scheme does not have an end date but does have a cut-off date by which claims have to have been made. I think that we have to watch for this latest Scheme to be ended but employers need to very much consider 24 March 2022.

Thanks (0)