Temporary SSP changes to cover the Coronavirus

Changes in the Budget to SSP to cover the Coronavirus

Today’s budget gave us more information on the how the government plans to support individuals and business who are affected by the Coronavirus.

The COVID-19 Bill will temporarily allow SSP to be paid from the first day of sickness absence, rather than the fourth day, for people who have COVID-19 or have to self‑isolate, in accordance with government guidelines.

There has also been a change to widen the scope of SSP and make it more accessible. Therefore SSP will temporarily extend to cover:

  • individuals who are unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate
  • people caring for those within the same household who display COVID-19 symptoms and have been told to self-isolate

Medical Evidence for SSP – Employers should use their discretion as regards requiring a GP fit note for COVID-19 related absences.

The government and the NHS will bring forward a temporary alternative to the fit note in the coming weeks which can be used for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak. This system will enable people who are advised to self-isolate to obtain a notification via NHS111 which they can use as evidence for absence from work, where necessary. This notification would meet employers’ need for evidence, whilst taking pressure away from General Practices.

Small and medium-sized businesses and employers will receive additional support to cope with the extra costs of paying COVID-19 related SSP by the government refunding eligible SSP costs. The eligibility criteria for the scheme are as follows:

  • This refund will be limited to two weeks per employee
  • Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible. 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
  • The eligible period for the scheme will commence from the day on which the regulations extending SSPto 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 to set up a repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible

Further information on the changes, and how they are to be implemented through the payroll are pending, but we will be monitoring this closely.