Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his 2020 Budget yesterday with a clear focus on Coronavirus and getting the country through the outbreak.

One of his main focuses was on protecting employers and employees in the event of self-isolation and forced shutdowns.

Last week we published a blog looking at protecting your workplace and employees from an employer’s perspective – read the full article here

Measures to mitigate the effect of coronavirus include statutory sick pay for all those who are advised to self-isolate. This extends even to cases where people are not displaying symptoms.

This comes as concerns are being raised regarding people not being incentivised to stay at home, even when they are at risk. This could further infect other people and makes the spread more likely.

What is statutory sick pay? (SSP)

SSP is money paid by employers in the event an employee falls ill. This covers casual and agency workers, but not the self- employed.

What are the new changes to SSP?

Before the Budget announcement, those eligible for SSP would have to wait until the fourth day off work before it came into effect. Now, the rules state that they will qualify on their first day away from work. They will be paid for the first 14 days of sickness.

SSP will be paid to people who are self-isolating, whether under recommendations or voluntarily (as agreed with employers).

To avoid misuse of these new measures, the chancellor said people would be able to obtain a sick note from the NHS 111 service, rather than from a GP.

This furthers the advice for people with symptoms to not go to their GP, but to stay at home and seek medical advice over the phone.

What is the Government doing to protect my business?

In aid of all these changes, the Chancellor announced the government will reimburse small employers any statutory sick pay they pay to employees. They have defined small businesses as having under 250 employees.

How much is statutory sick pay?

Current SSP is paid at £94.25 per week but it is the employer’s discretion if they choose to pay more. In order to get statutory sick pay, employees need to earn at least £118 a week.

This highlights the issues of those earning less than that, and different working situations such as zero-hour contracts.

What to do if you’re unsure

With the fast pace in which this issue is currently moving, it’s hard to keep on top of the changes and where your position lies.

Get in touch with Adam or Mark to talk through your situation and what you need to be considering in terms of HR.