The announcements have been followed in some cases by guidance and the introduction of legislation. Change has happened at a pace and it has been quite difficult to stay abreast and follow exactly what has happened and what is law. Some confusion has resulted, as well as a number of myths.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 became law on the 25th March 2020. This allowed for SSP to be claimed from the first day of incapacity retrospectively from the 13th March 2020.
It also enables employers with fewer than 250 employees to reclaim SSP paid in respect of the first fourteen days of Covid-19 related sickness absence, with retrospective effect from 14th March 2020.
Certain regulations have since been introduced to clarify the position over who qualifies for SSP. A novel concept of “deemed incapacity” has been introduced to cover those who may otherwise not have qualified but who are unable to work for reasons of compulsory self-isolation for example. These provisions are retrospective with effect from 13th March 2020.
The regulations have been amended twice already in the space of ten short days and the position as at the 28th March is now clarified as follows, namely that a person is deemed to be incapable of work and therefore qualifies for SSP because they are self-isolating to prevent infection from Covid-19 where:-
- they have symptoms of Covid-19, however mild, and are staying at home for 7 days, beginning with the day on which the symptoms started (day 1 for SSP purposes);or
- they live with someone who is self-isolating as above and are staying at home for 14 days, beginning with day 1;or
- they are already self-isolating in accordance with item b. above and develop symptoms, however mild, and are staying at home for 7 days beginning with the day the symptoms started.
After much confusion we also now have clarity in relation to individuals who fall into the category of “Vulnerable People” in the Stay at Home Guidance produced by the Government. Those in vulnerable groups are “strongly advised” to socially distance and work from home for example for an initial 12 week period.
The most recent amendment to the relevant regulations makes it clear that those in these vulnerable groups are NOT entitled to SSP if they are unable to work from home unless or course they or a member of their household have symptoms or are self-isolating for the reasons stated above. This begs the question as to what they should be paid and please refer to the FAQs.
Evidence of self-isolation can come in the form of Fit Notes, a new online isolation form launched by the Government and any self-certification rules that an employer will permit.
Other categories of absence either due to forced closure or employer’s sending employees home for various reasons are also covered in the FAQ’s referred to.
This article is accurate as at 4 April 2020. Please check our website at Ellisons COVID-19 Business Support for up to date developments.
For more help or advice with any of these issues please contact any member of the Employment Team.