As Covid-19 takes hold there’s plenty to worry about, not least how self isolation and illness will affect our incomes in the weeks and months to come. Fortunately the government is taking steps to help people cope with these challenges. This article explores statutory sick pay during the coronavirus crisis.
As you may know, statutory sick pay (SSP) is a minimum payment for any employee that is off sick. The current SSP rate means that employees receive £94.25 per week from their employer if they’re too ill to work. It is paid for up to 28 weeks.
Previously, 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 make sure that people don’t come to work feeling unwell.
Under the new rules, announced by Boris Johnson as the crisis in the UK worsened, 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 – check your employment contract or speak to your HR department for the details.
If you are employed and earn on average at least £118 per week before tax, you are legally entitled to statutory sick pay.
SSP is paid by your employer in the same way as your normal wages, i.e. weekly or monthly. If you have more than one job you may get SSP from each employer. Tax and National Insurance will be deducted.
If you think you are not getting the right amount of SSP, talk to your employer. If you’re still unhappy, contact the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) enquiry line.
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.
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 will soon be 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.
In total nearly two million workers, including a third of zero-hours contract workers do not qualify for statutory 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 working parents, and new measures are being announced every day to help people through this crisis. If you’re worried about how you’ll manage your finances in the coming weeks do take advantage of these.
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.