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As the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic 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. The government has already taken steps to help people cope. We take a look at statutory sick pay during the crisis.
Statutory sick pay (SSP) is a minimum payment for any employee that is off sick. The current SSP rate ensures 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. However the Government has announced new emergency rules for sick pay.
Under the standard rules an employee would have to be off work for three days before sick pay would start to be paid. Now, due to the necessity for anyone with flu like symptoms needing to self-isolate immediately for 7-14 days, new emergency legislation has been passed to ensure that people don’t try to come into work if they are feeling ill.
Employees are now entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from day one of any illness. The amount remains the same, and some employers will have their own more generous approach to sick pay (for example if you are off for a week or less, you may be paid in full). You should check your employment contract or speak to your HR department to get clarity here.
If you are employed and earn on average at least £118 per week before tax, you are legally entitled to statutory sick pay. It is paid to you by your employer in the same way as your normal wage, e.g. weekly or monthly. If you have more than one job you may be eligible to get SSP from each employer. Tax and National Insurance will be deducted as normal.
If you are not entitled to SSP as an employee (for example you don’t earn enough) you may be able to apply for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). You will need to 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 coronavirus are being asked not to seek medical healthcare, it is now possible to manage this request with a form via NHS 111 online.
In total nearly two million workers do not qualify for statutory sick pay. These include the self-employed, people on zero-hour contracts, agricultural workers, people in the armed forces and women who are already receiving maternity pay.
There have been calls for better provision for the self employed during the COVID-19 crisis, since they are not eligible for sickness pay. The Government has recently advised that gig workers, and the self employed who may have lost out on work due to the risks of coronavirus may apply for Universal Credit. However, this takes a while to be implemented.
Whatever their working situation, parents will have a lot of concerns over the coming weeks and months. It is worth considering ways in which you can cut down your expenses now, in order to stay afloat if you experience any wage loss.
A number of 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. If you are able to work from home, be aware of amount of money you are saving, and perhaps save those to see you though leaner times ahead.
New measures are being announced daily to help people through this crisis, so keep an eye on the news and personal finance websites for more information as it’s announced.
For example on Friday the Government announced measures for companies to receive grants in order to to pay their workers 80% of their salary – up to a limit of £2,500 a month. This aims to avoid redundancies and periods of unpaid leave which caused a lot of panic for people in the early stages – especially in at risk industries like travel.
There is also increasing pressure to put in place a more stringent package of support for the self employed.