The general approach to statutory sick pay (SSP) eligibility was amended back in March 2020 so that certain absences related to COVID-19 could be deemed to be days of incapacity. There have been several amendments since then, with the latest change coming into force on 6 July.
The SSP rules now permit an individual to be paid SSP where they self-isolate because they are in a “bubble” with someone in a “linked household” or “extended household” that has COVID-19 symptoms. This is an extension to the previous entitlement to SSP where it was only payable where an individual was living in the same household as a person with symptoms.
The new rules were introduced by the Statutory Sick Pay (Coronavirus) (Suspension of Waiting Days and General Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 (the SSP Regulations).
Although the definition of “linked household” only appears in legislation that is now revoked, the SSP Regulations do provide an entitlement to SSP where someone is notified as having been in close contact with an infected person. This would cover someone in a bubble. SSP will cease to be payable if the person with symptoms tests negative for COVID-19.
Further, for those who are shielding, the SSP Regulations introduce some new flexibility. A notification sent by a health body such as the Department of Health and Social Care, can be given to end shielding. However, a new notification advising someone to shield again for a further period, may now be given at a later date to start a new period of shielding. SSP can now be claimed in respect of this new period.
Employers should ensure that records of SSP payments are kept to meet HMRC requirements, for three years. Records include:
- the reason why an employee could not work;
- details of each period when they could not work, including start and end dates;
- details of the SSP qualifying days when the employee could not work; and
- NI numbers of all employees to whom the employer has paid SSP.
We are all accustomed to the COVID-19 pandemic bringing with it a continually changing landscape, so please do follow our blog for further updates as the situation develops.