As the coronavirus pandemic worsens many will be wondering about how self isolation, and sickness will affect their incomes. The Government has already taken steps to help people cope with these challenges. We take a closer look at the rules surrounding statutory sick pay during the COVID-19 crisis.
Statutory sick pay (also known as SSP) is a payment for any employee that is off work due to being sick and therefore unable to work. The current sick pay rate is set at £94.25 per week, paid for up to 28 weeks, which is paid to you by your current employer.
If you are an employee and earn on average at least £118 per week before tax, you are legally entitled to statutory sick pay.
SSP is paid to you by your employer in the same way as your normal wages. If you have more than one job you may get SSP from each employer. Tax and National Insurance will be deducted as it usually is with your wages.
If you think you are not getting the right amount of statutory sick pay, talk to your employer. If you’re still unhappy, contact the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) enquiry line for advice.
If for some reason you are not entitled to SSP as an employee you may be able to apply for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Ask your employer for an SSP1 form to support your claim.
Under standard rules, you would need to be off sick for three days before SSP would be paid. Now that anyone who has flu-like symptoms is being asked to self-isolate, the government has brought in new emergency legislation to avoid people coming to work feeling unwell.
Under the new rules employees will be entitled to SSP from day one of any illness. This is a minimum payment and some employers will have a more generous approach to sick pay – so it is a good idea to check your employment contract or speak directly to your HR department.
After seven days of sick leave you may be asked for evidence of your illness. As people with non-severe cases of Covid-19 are being asked not to seek medical healthcare, it is now possible to manage this request with a form via NHS 111 online.
Under the rules for SSP, the self-employed and people on zero-hour contracts are excluded. Agricultural workers, people in the armed forces and women who are already receiving maternity pay are also not eligible for sick pay.
If your income is severely affected by the need to self-isolate or through illness, you may be able to access sickness benefit by applying for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
These are strange and unprecedented times for everyone, and new measures are being announced every day to help people through this crisis. For example, numerous banks have announced that homeowners will be able to take three-month ‘payment holidays’ on their mortgages to ease financial pressure – so talk to your mortgage lender to take advantage of this. Keep an eye on the news and personal finance websites for more information as it’s announced.