Covid related sick pay comes to an end

In line with the Government’s strategy to “live with Covid”, in England at least, many of the Covid restrictions (and support) have come, or are coming to, an end. February saw the end of the legal requirement to self-isolate and the need for face coverings, and now March brings the end of special SSP rules.

Since 13th March 2020, employees off work due to Covid, either because they themselves had it, had symptoms, or had contact with someone who did, have been paid statutory sick pay (SSP) from day one of their absence (subject to the absence being at least 4 days in length).

The SSP rebate scheme, originally opened in March 2020, closed 30th September 2021 and reopened between 21st December 2021 and 17th March 2022, enabled employers to claim back for up to two weeks of these SSP payments per employee, relieving some of the burden of forced isolation and absence from the business.

What’s happening from 24th March 2022?

SSP Rebate Scheme

This is the last day eligible employers can make or amend claims for SSP paid for Covid-related absences between 21st December 2021 and 17th March 2022. Failure to submit a claim by the end of 24th March will mean employers will not be able to claim the rebate.

End of Covid-related SSP provisions

A number of changes were made to SSP rules in light of the pandemic. These come to an end on 24th March 2022. These include:

  • payment from the first day of the absence
  • payment for isolating due to Covid, Covid symptoms or contact with Covid, when the individual is not actually unwell.

What does this mean for employers?

This puts employers in a tricky position. In England the legal requirement to self-isolate was scrapped on 24th February 2022. As such, they will need to decide what to pay employees whilst they are off work following the guidance. As SSP rules are applied across Great Britain, it remains to be seen what will be put in place in Wales and Scotland, as self-isolation in Wales does not end until 28th March 2022, and advice in Scotland is still to isolate.

For many, they can return to home working temporarily. For those that are left too unwell to work due to the virus, they will get whatever sick pay would normally be due. The biggest problems arise for those that cannot work from home, but are well enough to work. In this case, employers may choose to extend sick pay to these people to reduce the risk of Covid transmission in the workplace.

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