Expert Insights

Expert Insights


Wednesday’s budget announced support for those affected by COVID-19 which includes temporary changes to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). The measures are aimed at helping to ensure that employees don’t lose out financially where they are asked to stay at home to protect others in the workplace from the virus while also supporting businesses who are experiencing an increase in costs and financial disruption. SSP is currently £94.25 each week rising to £95.85 from 6 April 2020. 

Scope of SSP widened 

SSP will be extended on a temporary basis to cover: 

  • individuals who are not ill but are unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate in line with Government guidance
  • SSP will be payable from day 1 instead of day 4 for affected individuals
  • People who are advised to self-isolate for COVID-19 will soon be able to obtain an alternative to the fit note to cover this by contacting NHS111 rather than visiting a doctor. This can be used by employees where employers require evidence.  Further details to be confirmed. 
  • Those not eligible for SSP e.g. the self-employed or people earning below the Lower Earnings Limit can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance.

Reimbursement of SSP 

The government plans to help small and medium-sized businesses and employers (fewer than 250 employees) cope with the extra costs of paying COVID-19 related SSP by refunding eligible SSP costs as follows:  

  • the refund will cover up to two weeks per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19 
  • the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
  • employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
  • employers should maintain records of staff absences, but should not require employees to provide a GP fit note. An alternative fit note will be available shortly through NHS111
  • the eligible period for the scheme will commence from the day on which the regulations extending SSP to self-isolators come into force
  • while existing systems are not designed to facilitate such employer refunds for SSP, the government will work with employers over the coming months.

Regulations providing for those who have been advised to self-isolate to be covered by SSP came into force today, 13 March 2020. It is anticipated that the legislation making the rest of these changes will come into force within the next week or so. 

For more information, please contact Trevor Bettany or Emma Bartlett.

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