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Coronavirus: latest developments for employers

Coronavirus / 18 March 2020

The situation with coronavirus is changing rapidly.  We will continue to bring you news of the latest developments from an employment law perspective via these Employment Law Now updates.

As you will be aware, the Chancellor made an announcement yesterday outlining the financial assistance the government is providing for businesses in response to the outbreak.

We set out below the recent measures the government has announced with regards to statutory sick pay (“SSP”):

– As set out in our previous Employment Law Now update here, employees who cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for SSP will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of their illness.  When published, this new legislation will apply retrospectively from 13 March 2020;

– With effect from 13 March 2020, the new Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) Regulations 2020 provide that SSP will be payable to people who are staying at home on government advice, not just those who are infected.  Employers are urged to use their discretion about what evidence, if any, they ask for from employees to evidence their need to stay at home on government advice.  If you do ask employees to provide such evidence, they should shortly be able to obtain this from NHS 111 Online instead of having to get a fit note from their GP (the government has said that this functionality is under development and will be available soon);

– To help businesses deal with the temporary economic impact of an outbreak of coronavirus, employers with less than 250 employees will be able to reclaim SSP (up to two weeks per employee) for employees unable to work because of coronavirus.  Legislation dealing with this has not yet been published.

However, despite these announcements, the circumstances in which an employee may be eligible to receive SSP (or not), or to receive contractual sick pay, remains complicated and there are many factors at play.

We can assist you should you need to discuss these or any related issues in more detail.

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