Coronavirus Sick Pay

Self-isolation and sick pay

Employees and workers must receive any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them if they need to self-isolate because:

  • they have coronavirus
  • they have coronavirus symptoms, for example a high temperature or new continuous cough
  • someone in their household has coronavirus symptoms
  • they’ve been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111

If someone has symptoms and lives alone, they must self-isolate for 7 days. 

If someone lives in a household and is the first to have symptoms, they must self-isolate for 7 days. Everyone else in their household must self-isolate for 14 days.

If anyone else in the household starts displaying symptoms, the person with the new symptoms must self-isolate for 7 days. This is regardless of where they are in the 14-day isolation period. 

Employers might offer more than SSP – ‘contractual’ sick pay.

If an employee or worker cannot work, they should tell their employer:

  • as soon as possible
  • the reason
  • how long they’re likely to be off for

The employer might need to be flexible if they require evidence from the employee or worker. For example, someone might not be able to provide a sick note (‘fit note’) if they’ve been told to self-isolate for more than 7 days.

Source ACAS March 2020

Coronavirus General

Schools shutting down will be ‘hard for working parents’

From 20/03/20 all schools in the UK will be shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19 which will may prove to be “hard for working parents”.

Gavin Williamson, education secretary announced on the 18/03/20 in parliament that all schools, private schools, further education colleges, sixth-form colleges and early-years care providers should close down.

Still, schools will remain open to children of “key workers” such as NHS staff, emergency services workers and delivery drivers so they can still carry out their jobs uninterrupted.

Scotland and Wales had already made this announcement earlier in the day, with Northern Ireland closing their schools on the 18/03/20.

Jamie Mackenzie, director at Sodexo Engage said:

“During this time of crisis, employers need to create an inclusive and supportive environment for all its staff, whatever their situation. While the health and safety of teachers and pupils are of course of the upmost importance right now, there is no denying that school and nursery closures are going to be hard for working parents.

At this critical time employers need to be as accommodating as possible and be mindful of those who need to look after their families. Recent research has shown that only 14 per cent of UK workers have been told to work from home by their employer during the coronavirus outbreak – but having this facility and more flexible working hours will be a huge benefit for working parents right now to reduce the extra pressures. Businesses must encourage employees to talk about their families and concerns with their employees and offer as much support as possible – there’s never been a more crucial time to put the right and necessary support structures in place.”

Jane van Zyl, chief executive of Working Families, the UK’s work-life balance charity said:

“Many working parents and carers with young children are already working from home, as recommended by the Government. Now that schools are closed, they find themselves needing to juggle work with looking after their children – including supporting their learning – at home.

Employers should continue to pay parents and carers as usual while they are working from home. Now’s the time for line managers to have sensible and understanding conversations with parents and carers of young children – particularly those working full-time – about what is needed, and what is and isn’t possible, over the coming weeks.

It’s important that the Government provides support to employers that can’t afford to continue to pay staff who are unable to work from home. This includes small employers that cannot afford to absorb any fall in productivity due to the parents and carers they employ having to work from home whilst looking after their children. Particular attention should be paid to supporting parents and carers in insecure work, including the self-employed, as they are most at risk of not being paid.

Now’s also the time for the Government to remind employers of parents’ and carers’ right to emergency time off for dependants while schools are closed, which means they cannot be dismissed or treated unfavourably as a result. This is an important right for those in insecure work who are at a higher risk of not having a job to return to.”

Source HRreview 19-03-2020

Coronavirus General

Bank of England boss: Don’t fire people because of pandemic

Firms thinking of firing staff due to the coronavirus crisis should consider the support available to them first, the new Bank of England boss has said.

Andrew Bailey urged UK firms to “stop, look at what’s available, come and talk to us [or] the government before you take that position”.

He added that his “big message” for firms and citizens was that “we will be there to support your needs”.

Many firms may have to cut staff amid a slump in demand caused by the virus.

Airlines, retailers, restaurants, theatres and pubs have all said they have been pushed to the brink as people are limiting all but essential social contact.

On Tuesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak responded with a £350bn stimulus package to support struggling firms, including £330bn of business loan guarantees.

He also promised a business rates holiday and grants for retailers and pubs – although there are concerns the measures do not go far enough.

Asked if the loan subsidies were available even to those companies that had already fired people, Mr Bailey told the BBC: “I would emphasise the point that it’s critical that we support the needs of the people in the country.”

Asked again if the authorities were providing a “bridge” beyond the crisis for people who need to buy food, as well for businesses, the governor said there were “important discussions” going on between companies and the Treasury.

The message, he said, was that “supporting the employment and income of the people in this country is critical”.

Source BBC 18-03-2020

General Taxation

Increasing the flat rate tax deduction for homeworking:

The government will increase the maximum flat rate tax deduction available where employees incur additional household costs where they work at home under homeworking arrangements, from £4 per week to £6 per week. This will take effect from April 2020.

Source HMRC March 2020

General Taxation

Employment Allowance increases for National Insurance from April 2020

This measure increases the maximum Employment Allowance by £1,000 to £4,000 from April 2020. This means eligible businesses and charities will be able to claim a greater reduction on their Secondary Class 1 National Insurance contributions liability. Separate to this Budget measure, HMRC has also previously announced that from 6 April 2020, eligibility rules for claiming the Employment Allowance will change – the £4,000 will count towards de minimis State aid ceilings. For more information on this please visit GOV.UK.

Source HMRC March 2020