IMPORTANT CHANGES: Coronavirus Sick Pay comes to an end – What happens next?
On the 30th September, the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, along with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough), both came to an end. But what does this mean now? What happens next?
As we climb our way out of the jaws of Coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions and return to a sense of normality, one thing is clear; COVID-19 is here to stay, and we must find a way to live alongside it which means we should now familiarise ourselves once again, with the rules around sickness absence with COVID absences being part of our daily lives!
What is the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme?
Introduced for small and medium sized employers (fewer than 250 members of staff), the scheme was introduced to help these businesses recover the costs of paying for any COVID related sickness absence. This replaced the standard Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for anyone who tested positive and were unable to work, and allowed the employer to apply for a rebate rather than the employer baring the cost of SSP under the standard scheme, and they were able to claim the money back and receive help.
From October 1st the rebate scheme will no longer be in effect and anyone who catches the virus after this date may be entitled to receive SSP or company sick pay but the employer can no longer apply for the rebate. Previously, if the employee became sick but was furloughed, the employer would be able to keep them on furlough rather than moving the employee to SSP. They could therefore continue to pay furlough during this period and still be able to claim it back from the Furlough scheme. Now that furlough is also ending, employers must place their workers on SSP (providing they satisfy the relevant qualifying criteria).
Do we have to pay workers who are off sick with COVID-19?
Due to some quirk in the legislation (due to legislation not being updated in line with the closure of the COVID-SSP Rebate Scheme) employers will continue to manage their employees sickness absence by understanding whether their absence is COVID related or not.
This means that if an employee has symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19 they should be paid SSP from day one - however, if an employee falls ill for example the run of the mill cold, the will only be entitled to SSP after the waiting days before receiving sick pay will apply.
Employers will have to cover the cost of SSP for employees who cannot work because they are affected by COVID with no government support!
How long do I have to claim for the rebate scheme?
Employers who were eligible for the rebate scheme will have until the 31st December 2021 to make any claims for periods up to the 30th September 2021, or they will face missing out, as from the 1st October 2021, employers will now have to cover the cost of SSP for workers affected by Coronavirus from day 1.
How HR:4UK Can help you?
As employers start to navigate their way through sickness absence post COVID, if you need any help or advice, HR:4UK is here to help! Get in touch with one of our advisors today and we will assist you on an individual case-by-case basis.