COVID19 – Statutory Sick Pay

posted by KeithDaniel

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a number of changes have been made to the Statutory Sick Pay Regulations. More recently, on 24th December 2020, the Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 7) Regulations 2020 (the “Regulations”) came into force to amend the Sick Pay Regulations in respect of the changes made to self-isolation requirements.

The changes were made following public health advice published by the government on 14th December 2020 reducing the self-isolation period for those with symptoms of COVID-19, who have tested positive or who are in a household with someone who has tested positive, from 14 days to 10 days.

Therefore, the Regulations now provide that individuals in the circumstances mentioned above will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for the full period for which they are required to self-isolate.

The Regulations have also been amended to reflect the position that the 10 day self-isolation period will begin on the day after symptoms start, or, if asymptomatic, the day after an individual receives a positive COVID-19 test result. The change provides that anyone who is symptomatic or who receives a positive test result, in addition to the individual’s household contacts, will be deemed to be incapable of work if they self-isolate for 11 days.

In the event that an individual is notified (whether verbally or in writing) that they have tested positive for COVID-19, then the individual and their household contacts will all be eligible for SSP for the period of time that is specified in the notification. Where the notification does not set out the dates that the individual is required to self-isolate, then the individual and their household contacts will be deemed to be incapable of work for 11 days, with the 11 days beginning on the day on which the individual first developed symptoms, or, if earlier, the day on which they took the test that produced a positive result.

Recently we have received a number of queries from employers where they have initiated disciplinary action where an employee has breached self-isolation requirements/guidelines and in turn put their colleagues and customers/clients at risk. In order to avoid this situation from occurring we would suggest that employers send around a guidance note/memo to members of staff setting out government guidance concerning self-isolation requirements, the position regarding sick pay along with the consequences of not following the government guidance. It would be helpful to send this guidance note/memo via email to all members of staff as well as displaying the note on notice boards in communal areas of the workplace.

If you would like more information about any of the issues raised in this article or on any other aspect of employment law, please contact us on 029 2034 5511 or at employment@berrysmith.com.