• Leave Management

Understanding statutory sick pay with Coronavirus update

Aude Creveau
Aude Creveau

Do you know that 70% of small businesses leave their HR management process to line managers? What that means in practical terms is that sometimes someone without any HR experience is the one who is in charge of HR administration. This leads to decreased job retention, outdated HR processes, and job dissatisfaction.

Read on to learn more about how statutory sick pay (SSP) works. The informational guide below will also provide you with how SSP is being applied during the Coronavirus pandemic. SSP as an employee's legal right must stay compliant with rules, regulations, and the law even during the CoronaVirus pandemic.

What is Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

Determining what you most need and integrating it with the HR system you want is of the utmost importance for your company. Statutory sick pay (SSP) is defined as the minimum payment amount allowing for an employee who is unable to work due to illness or incapacitation. The payments are meant to take the place of the employee's wages that is usually payable to the employee for up to twenty-eight weeks.

The history of SSP has been a long and challenging road to create and enforce until 1983. In 1983 Statutory Sick Pay was put in place as a mandate for businesses to provide for their employees. SSP standardised sick pay for employees over a period. In the beginning, SSP was only for about eight weeks, but in 1985 it was increased to twenty-eight weeks.

It's a necessary benefit that is advantageous to employees and employers. While it's true that employees are entitled to SSP, it is also true employers only have to pay the employee at the SSP rate of around £94.25 per week. This has become such an issue that the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) found that SSP is paid at inadequate rates that do not in some cases meet the requirements of EU law.

Who qualifies for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

Most employers follow the standard SSP requirement regulations. That means for an employee to qualify for SSP they must meet the following requirements.

  1. You must be classified as an employee and you much have performed some employee-based work for your employer.
  2. Your salary must be at least £120 per week.
  3. Your illness, self-isolating, shielding, or incapacitation for a minimum of four days in a row (this does include your non-working days).
  4. During the Coronavirus pandemic, the employee four-day minimum has been waived with SSP starting for employees on Day One.

Many employers pay more for the regulated and statutory minimum salary range. It's important to note that you cannot receive SSP if you're already receiving statutory paternity, maternity, or adoption pay. You are also exempt from receiving SSP if you've already received your allotted twenty-eight weeks of SSP or have been put on the new coronavirus job retention scheme by your employer.


Current regulations on Statutory Pay Sick (SSP) leave

Normally SSP is mandatory for employers to give to employees after the employee has missed four days in a row due to an illness. However, the current regulations due to COVID19 have instituted new regulations that require employers to abide and pay SSP for employees on their first day of illness. In normal circumstances, SSP payments are mandatory due to regulations that require employers to pay for employees that have been out for at least four days in a row due to an illness.

Employers must also pay employees SSP for up to twenty-eight weeks at least £120 per week for days the employee is contracted to work. However, since the COVID19 pandemic began SSP applies to an employee, who is self-isolating for at least four days due to them or someone they are living with having COVID symptoms SSP applies. In addition, SSP applies if an employee has been notified by the NHS or any public health authority that they have been in contact with someone who has COVID.

This is just one of the reasons that employment contracts are so vital to have in place between you and your employees so both parties are legally protected in cases involving SSP regulations.

COVID19 SSP regulations

SSP can also apply if someone in an employee's extended household has symptoms. If a GP tells an employee they need to take safety precautions, that means employers must pay SSP to their employees on the first qualifying day if they work on or after the following:

  • If someone they live with has symptoms on or after March 13, 2020
  • If the employee is self-shielding on or after April 16, 2020
  • If the NHS or any public health agency informs an employee they've come into contact with someone who has COVID on or after May 28, 2020

If someone in your extended household or what's called the support bubble has COVID-19 symptoms as of July 6, 2020, then SSP does apply to the employee. Also, there are times you do qualify for SSP even if you haven't received eight weeks of pay yet. When you have a letter from the NHS or a GP that states you are at high risk of severe illness from COVID19 so you must stay home for at least twelve weeks, then an employer must pay your SSP.

When does an employee need a fit note for work?

Employees can almost always take time off from work if they are ill. But if they are ill for more than seven days, they must give employers proof of their illness. Employees can self-certify they are ill but after a week of using SSP for an illness, the employee must provide a doctor's note they can return to work. This is sometimes called a 'fit note'. 

If an employee is being impacted by COVID-19 they can ask for an NHS111 isolation note. Most employers have their own illness rules, regulations, and rights for employees that are almost always written out in an employee's contract and personnel file.


Sick leave during holidays

It's beneficial for employees to take sick leave instead of burning their holiday time if they are ill before or during a holiday. If occupation sick pay is needed there are other mandated regulations and rules that you need to know. This means the SSP is based on an employee's normal pay. 

The minimum wage allowed in the U.K. is £7.70 per hour and the average full-time work week totals about forty hours per week. SSP's mandated amount of £94.25 compared with £308 per week is far less than what an employee makes when they are actively working. It's beneficial for employers to go over occupational health pay rates and the payment scheme within an employee's contract or their personnel handbook. 

Having a way to track accurate sick leave balances that abide by personnel rules is vital in today's business world during COVID-19. These requirements can take a significant amount of time and effort for your company. When you're ready to check out the immense benefits of supporting your leave management there is a company that can provide you with a safe, accurate, timely, and reasonably priced system. 

Managing sickness absence efficiently

Keeping track of sick leave and absence records can get messy. Luckily, absence management software like kiwiHR can record your company's record absences accurately. How does it work? Simply give access to your employees on kiwiHR, where they will be able to request days off for any given period using their preferred device. Managers on the other side will be notified immediately upon request and be able to approve or decline, and add a comment if needed.

Does your company require proof of sickness? No worries! With kiwiHR employees can also attach doctor's notes along with their requests.

Let smart online HR software arrange and track employee sick leave balances in chronological order. The chronological order makes it easier to perform check and balances that helps you keep current with what's going on with leave balances. kiwiHR will help you to keep an overview of all employees' absences and manage as many leave types as you need.


Manage sickness absence with ease

Your absence management policy is something you need to take your time with. To help with your absence management strategy, turn to kiwiHR. HR software will support you with a sickness tracker and employee management. That way, you can focus on keeping your employees happy and maintaining a positive employer brand—without the hassle of administrative tasks. Start your free trial today!

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