Small and medium-sized businesses will be able to claim money from the government to cover statutory sick pay which is paid to employees affected by Covid, the chancellor has said.
Rishi Sunak said the Treasury was reintroducing the rebate scheme which ended on 30 September. It is part of a series of measures announced to support firms affected by the new wave of infections.
Statutory sick pay (SSP) of £96.35 a week is paid by employers.
The cost of sick pay is one of businesses’ concerns as they face a wave of absences caused by the omicron variant of Covid.
The Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme means businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be reimbursed SSP for Covid-related absences, for up to two weeks per employee.
They will be eligible to make a claim from now and can make claims retrospectively from mid-January.
Sick pay rules
Some workers’ contracts offer full pay to those off ill, albeit for a limited time. If that time runs out, or if workers do not received sick leave in the first place, they should receive SSP.
Employees must self-isolate for four days to be eligible for SSP but are paid for every day they are self-isolating.
The self-employed are not eligible, but casual or agency workers are entitled to it.
Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said there was the prospect of one million people sick or self-isolating by January. “This COVID SSP scheme will reduce stress for small employers up and down the country, helping those who are struggling most with depleted cashflow,” he said. “It is vital that small firms – once again up against a massively disrupted festive season – can reclaim the costs of supporting staff.” Separately, workers affected by children or other dependants hit by Covid are generally entitled to time off in an emergency. However, they might not get paid, as it depends on the terms of their work contract.
Many bosses are allowing parents to work flexibly, to try to manage both work and childcare.
Please note: No further guidance has yet been released but we shall update you as and when we are made aware.