During the coronavirus pandemic, the government suspended the three-day wait for COVID-related statutory sick pay (SSP), meaning employers must pay SSP from the first qualifying day. From the 25 March 2022 this suspension is due to end and the standard three-day waiting time for statutory sick pay will be reinstated for claims, including those coronavirus-related.
Under the standard rules, UK employers do not have to pay SSP to an employee for the first three days of sickness absence (‘waiting days’). Once the three waiting days have passed then SSP becomes payable from the fourth qualifying day (assuming that all other conditions regarding payment of SSP have been satisfied).
This three day waiting period for SSP was temporarily suspended by the government in March 2020 for those employees who were unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate, as well as people caring for those within the same household who displayed coronavirus symptoms and were told to self-isolate. The legislation which was passed to bring in this suspension of the 3 day wait for SSP contained an expiry date for when it would cease. This means that the coronavirus-related SSP will automatically revert back to three days on 25 March 2022, unless the government intervenes and extends the measure, although this would appear unlikely given the recent lifting of restrictions and ending of self-isolation rules.
In preparation for the return of the three day wait for SSP, employers are advised to:
- Consider any changes that may be required to their payroll software to accommodate the removal of “coronavirus-related SSP” and the reinstatement of waiting days for all absence types.
- Inform employees claiming coronavirus-related SSP from 25 March 2022 that their SSP will be paid from the fourth qualifying day in the period of incapacity for work, and not from day one.
In addition to the 3 day wait for coronavirus-related SSP being reintroduced, the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme which was reintroduced from 21 December 2021 following the resurgence of coronavirus in late 2021 will close for coronavirus related absences after 17 March 2022.
Employers will have up to and including 24 March 2022 to:
- submit any final claims
- amend claims they’ve already submitted.
If you have any questions regarding SSP or the changes outlined above, please speak to your usual contact at the firm.
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