As a part of the governments living with Covid-19 plan, from 24th March the current coronavirus related statutory sick pay (SSP) rules will come to an end.
Pre-pandemic rules will apply, meaning anyone unwell with coronavirus will only be paid SSP from the fourth day of their absence. Workers’ right to claim SSP due to sickness or self-isolating from the first day of absence will also come to an end. This will create significant confusion because the alternative to not paying people some form of sick pay will be having staff with Covid-19 coming into workplaces as normal if they are unable to work from home, potentially mixing with vulnerable people. Also, there is a question mark over whether businesses will have the means to afford to pay a form of SSP, in order to stop employees coming in if they don’t want them to.
However, employers still have health and safety obligations, and while the magnitude of risk has declined, they still need risk assessments. Statutory sick pay is currently £96.35 per week and organisations such as the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) have been campaigning for a long time for SSP to be widened and enhanced, allowing individuals more financial security. This is especially important currently, due to the current pressures on the increase of the cost of living which is already having a detrimental impact on innumerable people. A recent CIPD report showed that 62% of employers surveyed agree with the CIPD that SSP is too low and should be increased. It is the suggestion of the CIPD that SSP is raised to be at least equivalent to someone earning the National Minimum Wage/National Living Wage.