Regulations have come into force which permit payment of statutory sick pay (SSP) from day 1 of an employee's absence from work (rather than day 4), where the employee is incapable, or deemed to be incapable, of doing work by reason of coronavirus. This applies retrospectively for absence on or after 13 March 2020.
These Regulations also amend the rules on who is entitled to SSP when self-isolating. This is now limited to these 3 categories:
- Employees who have symptoms of coronavirus, however mild, and are staying at home for 7 days.
- Employees who live with someone who is self-isolating (as above) and are staying at home for 14 days.
- Employees who are already self-isolating in accordance with point 2 above, develop the symptoms of coronavirus, however mild, and are staying at home for 7 days.
This limited list does not cover those employees classed as vulnerable who are strongly advised to "socially distance" and work from home or those classed as ‘extremely vulnerable’ who are shielding. This means that these classes of employees will not be entitled to SSP when they choose not to attend work and isolate themselves at home.
The right to pay for such vulnerable employees is complicated. Where such employees can and do carry out their roles from home, they will be entitled to full pay. They may also be entitled to full pay where their employer sends them home (i.e. the employee wishes to attend work and does not follow the government guidance themselves.) They will be entitled to SSP if they fall within one of the 3 categories above (i.e. they get coronavirus symptoms or live in a household with someone who does). Otherwise, if they self-isolate and cannot work from home, they will be entitled to no pay at all, unless they fall within an enhanced company sick pay scheme. Vulnerable employees can potentially be furloughed, so this may be a way around this tricky situation for employers.