For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, government will fund Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for two weeks.
The news has been announced as part of today’s budget, March 11th, given by the recently appointed chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak.
Sunak has also confirmed plans to increase the National Insurance threshold. The threshold will be raised £8,632 to £9,500 next month. Sunak said: “That’s a tax cut for 31 million people, saving a typical employee £104 a year.”
The government had previously announced SSP would be made available from day one when self-isolating, instead of day four.
SSP is paid by employers, who will know the reason their staff are giving for not being at work and already have some discretion to accept different forms of evidence as proof of sickness.
The DWP said there is a range of support in place for those who do not receive SSP, including Universal Credit and contributory Employment and Support Allowance. The move will be included in emergency legislation to deal with coronavirus.
Ordinarily, SSP would only be payable from the fourth day of sickness, but it will temporarily be available from day one of absence.
The emergency legislation will provide individuals with an additional £40 (for a seven-day worker), but the CIPP said concerns have been raised about those who aren’t currently eligible for SSP, for example, the self-employed or those who are low earners.
To receive SSP, individuals must be earning at least £118 a week, which not all workers do. The current rate of SSP is £94.25 per week, which will increase to £95.85 for tax year 2020-21.
Following these concerns, on March 9th, Thérèse Coffey, secretary of state for the Department for Work and Pensions, told parliament: “If claimants cannot attend their job centre appointment in person because of self-isolation, work coaches can exercise discretion, so claimants should engage with them and they will not be sanctioned – as long they let us know before the appointment.
“And as my Rt Hon friend the Prime Minister set out last week ‘nobody should be penalised for doing the right thing’.
“That’s why the government’s safety net also extends to those who are self-employed or who work in the gig-economy. They can apply for Universal Credit or new-style ESA. Advances are available for Universal Credit immediately.”