Coronavirus: How employers can get help with statutory sick pay

Businesses will be able to reclaim the money spent on statutory sick pay (SSP) for employees in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced during last week’s Budget that the government will fund SSP for two weeks for businesses with fewer than 250 employees.

Employers must pay SSP of £94.25/week to anyone too ill to work for up to 28 weeks. This is set to increase to £95.85/week on 6 April. It is paid in the same way as normal wages.

See also: Budget 2020: What it means for farmers

To qualify for SSP you must:

  • be classed as an employee and have done some work for your employer
  • have been ill for at least 4 days in a row (including non-working days)
  • earn an average of at least £118 per week
  • tell your employer you’re sick before their deadline – or within 7 days if they do not have one

Coronavirus response

As part of the government’s temporary changes to tackle coronavirus, as long as you are eligible for SSP you can claim it if you are self-isolating because of Covid-19.

People who cannot work due to the virus can claim SSP from day one, rather than day four of their illness. The government plans to legislate to make this apply retrospectively from 13 March.

If employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to coronavirus, they will be able to get it from the NHS 111 online website instead of having to get a fit note from their doctor.

Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be able to reclaim SSP for employees unable to work because of coronavirus. The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.

What about farm workers?

Agricultural workers in England must be paid at least the national minimum wage, significantly more than the £94.25/week referenced by the chancellor.

Workers employed before the rules changed on 1 October 2013 still have the right to the Agricultural Minimum Wage if it says so in their contract, the amount of which depends on the worker’s job grade and category.

The lowest grade for an above school age worker is £242.19/week.

Agricultural workers are entitled to sick pay, meaning they’ll get at least the Agricultural Minimum Wage when they’re off.


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