Legislation will allow SME’S and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.

Eligibility for Sick Pay

  • The refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
  • Employers with fewer than 250 employees (as of 28 February 2020) will be eligible to reclaim expenditure for  SSP as a result of COVID-19
  • Staff absence records should be maintained, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. Employers should use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate in making decisions about sick pay.
  • Eligible period will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to self-isolators comes into force
  • The government will work to set up the repayment mechanism as soon as possible (possibly via the RTI system). Existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP
  • Temporarily, SSP can be paid to the director(s)s from the day they have to go to self-isolate themselves
  • Those who follow advice to stay at home and who cannot work as a result will be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP), even if they are not themselves sick.


Not eligible for SSP?

Those who are not eligible for SSP can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit (UC) or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (CESA). This includes the self-employed or people earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week:

  • For the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the UC Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating according to government advice, ensuring self-employed claimants will receive support.
  • People will be able to claim UC and access advance payments without having to attend a jobcentre if they are advised to self-isolate.
  • CESA will be payable, at a rate of £73.10 a week if you are over 25 for eligible people affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating in line with advice from Day 1 of sickness, rather than Day 8.

What to do if an employee needs time off work to look after someone

Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations related to coronavirus (COVID-19). For example:

  • if they have children they need to look after or arrange childcare for because their school has closed
  • to help their child or another dependant if they’re sick, or need to go into isolation or hospital

There’s no statutory right to pay for this time off. However, some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.

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