For Employers and Employees

Mar 18, 2020

 

Guidance on welfare and benefits has also been published directed at employees and their employers on areas such as sick pay due to COVID-19 and working from home.

Help and advice for employers

SME employers will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (“SSP”) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

  • the refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19;
  • employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible - the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020;
  • employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19;
  • employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note; and
  • eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to those staying at home comes into force

 

The Government has stated that it will begin working with employers to set up the repayment mechanism as soon as possible.

The remaining guidance for employers is designed to allow the employer and business to provide advice to staff on:

  • COVID-19;
  • how to help prevent spread of all respiratory infections including COVID-19;
  • what to do if someone with suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in a workplace setting;
  • what advice to give to individuals who have travelled to specific areas, as outlined by the Chief Medical Officer; and
  • advice for the certification of absence from work resulting from COVID-19.

By law, medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness. After 7 days, it is for the employer to determine what evidence they require, if any, from the employee. This does not need to be fit note (Med 3 form) issued by a GP or other doctor.

An employee may be advised to isolate themselves and not to work in contact with other people by NHS 111 or PHE if they are a carrier of, or have been in contact with, an infectious or contagious disease, such as COVID-19. The Government is advising that employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to stay at home due to suspected COVID-19, in accordance with the public health advice being issued.

Help and advice for employees

The guidance for employees is built around three key themes:

More information on expenses which you may be able to claim as a result of regular working from home is also available. Note that Budget 2020 increased the £4 per week to £6 per week from April 2020.