Statutory Sick Pay no longer payable for Covid-19 self-isolation
Changes to Covid-related sick pay from 25 March 2022.
What has changed?
Two key changes to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) came into effect on 25 March 2022, with the rules returning to those previously in force before the Covid-related amendments to legislation made in 2020.
From 25 March, staff are no longer eligible for SSP if they are off work because they are isolating due to: a Covid infection; having Covid symptoms; being a close contact of someone with Covid; or medical advice to stay at home before going into hospital for surgery. SSP will now only be payable where the individual cannot work because of sickness or incapacity. Those who have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic but have tested positive will not be eligible for SSP if they are absent from work.
The changes also mean that SSP is now not payable for the first three days of incapacity related to Covid-19 (matching the waiting day rule for incapacity for other reasons). Under transitional arrangements, where Covid-related incapacity started on or before 24 March 2022, SSP will still be payable from day one.
Contractual sick pay
Employers should be aware that employment contracts may include more generous provisions than the statutory scheme. Contractual sick pay rules will continue to apply and employers should check the wording of contracts and policies before making any changes based on the statutory rules.
Controlling Covid risks in the workplace
Employers continue to have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of staff and other individuals they work with, and should consider the on-going risks of Covid-19 in their risk assessments.
Updated Guidance on working safely during covid-19 makes clear that people who test positive or have Covid symptoms are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people, even though they are not legally required to do so. The guidance also states that they should not attend work, should inform their employer, and that employers should talk to staff about their options if they cannot work from home. Again, this is guidance only and not a legal requirement.
Many employers have put in place policies to clarify their expectations where staff have symptoms and/or test positive. However, employers should be aware that staff could simply decide not to test or not to inform their employer of symptoms or a positive result. Employers could seek to bring disciplinary action where rules have been put in place and breached by staff. However, this is unlikely to be of much practical help in controlling the risks of a workplace outbreak.
Taking steps to support employees to self-isolate and/or work from home may be a more useful approach to controlling risk. Employers may wish to continue to encourage staff to stay off work if they have Covid symptoms or have tested positive, by choosing to pay sick pay where they cannot work from home or maintain social distancing.
Taking legal advice on any changes to policy and contracts can help to ensure the changes are clear and mitigate the risks, for example if employers may revert to former sick pay provisions in future.
How Wrigleys can help
The employment team at Wrigleys is expert in advising charities, third sector and education sector clients on statutory and contractual employment rights, and on employment issues arising from the Covid pandemic.
We have extensive experience in advising employers on making changes to policies and contracts, offering timely, pragmatic advice to help reduce the risk of conflict, grievances, and claims.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Alacoque Marvin or any other member of the employment team on 0113 244 6100.
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The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. The law stated is correct at the date (stated above) this article was first posted to our website. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors.