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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

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Coronavirus Sick Pay

Coronavirus latest guidance and legislative updates

The situation in relation to coronavirus is rapidly evolving and things are changing every day. After laying emergency legislation on 12 March 2020, the government then pushed through a secondary piece of legislation on 16 March 2020.


The initial legislation lay the ground for anyone in self-isolation due to potential infection of COVID-19 to be deemed as being ‘incapable for work’. This new legislation came into force from 13 March 2020 and will be applicable for an eight-month period, up until 13 November 2020.

The second piece of legislation was published on 16 March 2020, to come into effect from 17 March 2020. The key difference between the two items was that the government guidance on 16 March advised individuals to self-isolate for a period of 14 days but before that point, the instruction was to self-isolate for seven days. The secondary legislation allows for the 14-day period of self-isolation.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has also published updated guidance in relation to ‘coronavirus and claiming benefits’. Within the guidance, it states:

“If you cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, you will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of your illness. DWP intends to legislate so this measure applies retrospectively from 13 March 2020.

Statutory Sick Pay will be payable if you are staying at home on Government advice, not just if you are infected by coronavirus. This will apply from 13 March 2020.”

There has been much confusion relating to when the rules relating to SSP being paid from day one as opposed to day four would be applicable from, but this latest piece of guidance gives pretty much concrete confirmation that it took effect from 13 March 2020.

CIPP comment

At the point of writing, the legislation relating to SSP being paid from day one, and any regulations relating to the fact that employers with less than 250 staff can reclaim up to 14 days’ worth of SSP for coronavirus related absence per employee, are yet to be seen. As soon as there are any further updates for payroll professionals to be aware of, the CIPP will update its members via News Online.

Source CIPP 17-03-2020

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Coronavirus Sick Pay

The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) Regulations 2020

Emergency legislation has been passed via a statutory instrument to amend the Statutory Sick Pay (General) Regulations 1982, to confirm that a person who is self-isolating in line with government advice relating to coronavirus, is deemed as being incapable of work.
This follows on from Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak’s announcement that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) would be payable to not only those testing positive for COVID-19 or displaying its symptoms, but also to those individuals advised to self-isolate.

Regulation 2(1) has been amended to include the following in the definition of those deemed incapable of work:

“He is isolating himself from other people in such a manner as to prevent infection or contamination with coronavirus disease, in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland or Public Health Wales and effective on 12th March 2020; and by reason of that isolation is unable to work.”

This has confirmed as a temporary measure, applicable for a period of eight months. The legislation is due to expire in eight months, on 12 November 2020.

CIPP comment

The statutory instrument does not suspend the three waiting days that currently need to be observed prior to the payment of SSP, so the CIPP hopes to see a further update that incorporates this in the very near future. Nor does the legislation refer to the recent announcement that businesses with less than 250 staff as at 28 February 2020, will be able to recover up to 14 days SSP from the government.

Source CIPP 15-03-2020