An Opposition Day debate on ‘Statutory Sick Pay’ has been scheduled for Wednesday 18 March 2020. This briefing provides background and resources on the issue. This is a fast-moving issue and should be read as correct at the time of publication.

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Background

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is a minimum statutory payment that qualifying employees are entitled to for periods where they are incapable for work due to an illness.

SSP is currently available to qualifying employees whose average earnings are above £118 per week. It is paid from the fourth day of absence and at a statutory rate of £94.25 per week.

The increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus infection) in the UK has given rise to concern about the SSP system. In particular, concern has been expressed that those who are not eligible for SSP – up to two million low paid workers as well as self-employed workers in the gig economy – will be pressured to continue working, even if Government guidance suggests they should self-isolate. Unions, including the TUC, have launched a campaign calling for ‘sick pay for all’.

The Government has already taken a number of steps, including making regulations that make it clear that employees who self-isolate on the basis of published advice from Public Health England (and the devolved health authorities) will be entitled to SSP.

The Government has also announced that it will introduce legislation to make SSP payable from the first day of sickness and that it will refund SSP payments made by businesses with under 250 employees.

Further reading

Gov.uk information on Statutory Sick Pay 

The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020

Coronavirus: advice for employers and employees – ACAS website

Coronavirus: unions attack ‘paltry’ sick pay for self-isolating couriers, The Guardian, 16 March 2020

Some workers face financial hardship in just one week if they have to take time off for Coronavirus, CIPD, 16 March 2020

Coronavirus support for employees, benefit claimants and businesses, DWP, 16 March 2020

Budget reaction: TUC says government coronavirus announcements leave millions of workers behind, TUC, 11 March 2020 

Parliamentary Petition:Include self-employed in statutory sick pay during Coronavirus

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