Managing sickness absence effectively in your workplace can have a positive impact on your business – resulting in increased efficiency, improved performance, motivated employees, reduced management workload, and reduced costs. It has been increasingly more difficult over the past year to juggle the rules and regulations for both employees and employers since the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Below is a guide for both employers and employees.
Employees can get £96.35 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work which is paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.

You cannot get less than the statutory amount. You can get more if your company has a sick pay scheme, check with your employer directly or your contract.

By law, employers must pay SSP to employees when they meet eligibility conditions. To be eligible for SSP, an employee must:

  • Be classed as an employee and have done some work for their employer
  • Earn an average of at least £120 per week
  • Have been ill, self-isolating or ‘shielding’ for at least four days in a row
  • Give the correct notice to their employer
  • Give proof of illness to their employer, only after seven days off

An employee must tell their employer that they are unable to work before the deadline set, or otherwise within seven days, as they may lose some of their SSP if they do not notify their employer in time.

Unable to work due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
You may be entitled to SSP if you are self-isolating because:

  • You or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms, or has tested positive for coronavirus
  • You have been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that you have been in contact with someone with coronavirus
  • Someone in your ‘support bubble’ has coronavirus symptoms, or has tested positive for coronavirus
  • You have been advised by a doctor or healthcare professional to self-isolate before going into hospital for surgery

You must self-isolate for at least four days to be eligible for SSP. You can also get SSP if both of the following apply:

  • You live or work in an area with restrictions in place (local or national) including advice to ‘shield’
  • You have been advised to shield because you are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus

You cannot get SSP if you are self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK and do not need to self-isolate for any other reason.

Sick notes and proof of illness
You only have to give your employer a sick note (fit for work note) if you are off sick for more than seven days in a row.

You can get a fit note from your doctor. If your employer agrees, a similar document can be provided by a physiotherapist or occupational therapist instead and this is sometimes called an Allied Health Professional (AHP) Health and Work Report. If you are self-isolating and cannot work because of coronavirus, you can get an ‘isolation note’ from NHS 111 if you are off work for seven or more days. Similarly, you can get a ‘shielding note’ from your doctor advising you to shield if you are in the very high-risk category of severe illness from coronavirus. If you have been notified by the NHS that you have come into contact with someone with coronavirus, then that notification is proof.

Reclaiming Statutory Sick Pay (Employers)

An employer may be able to reclaim up to two week’s SSP, up to £95.85 a week for each employee, if all of the following apply:

  • Your employee was off work because they had coronavirus, were self-isolating or shielding
  • Your PAYE payroll scheme started on or before 28 February 2020
  • You had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020

You can also claim if your employee was shielding before:

  • 26 April 2021 in Scotland
  • 12 April 2021 in Northern Ireland
  • 1 April 2021 in England and Wales

Both of the following must also be true:

  • your PAYE payroll scheme started on or before 28 February 2020
  • you had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020

You must submit or amend claims on or before 31 December 2021.

Annual Leave
Statutory annual leave is accrued while the employee is off work sick no matter how long they are off, and it can be taken during sick leave.

Record Keeping
You will need to keep records of SSP you have paid to an employee who was off work because of coronavirus if you want to reclaim it. You will need to keep the following records for three years after the end of the tax year you paid SSP:

  • Date employee was off sick
  • Which of those dates were qualifying days
  • The reason they said they were off work
  • Employee’s National Insurance number

If your illness is not related to COVID-19, you can get SSP from the fourth day you are off work sick.

Contact our specialist team for more details on 01792 468684 or email

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