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What are my rights to sick pay during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?

With the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK, you might find yourself having to take time off work. During this time, it is important to know your rights to sick pay if you cannot work due to COVID-19.

If you are concerned or want to ensure you receive what you are entitled to, get in touch with us today.

In this guide, we will cover some of the most pressing questions for employees during this pandemic:

Will I receive sick pay if I am self-isolating?

Under the current government guidelines, employees and workers who follow the advice to stay at home and self-isolate because of coronavirus, or suspected coronavirus, will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). You should be self-isolating if:

  • You have coronavirus
  • Someone in your household has coronavirus
  • You are displaying symptoms of coronavirus, such as a persistent cough or high fever
  • You have been advised by NHS 111 or a medical professional to self-isolate

If you live alone, you are expected to self-isolate for seven days. If you are self-isolating because a member of your household has coronavirus or has symptoms of the virus, your entire household must self-isolate for 14 days. The person who is first to display symptoms must self-isolate for seven days.

If I am self-isolating, when will I start receiving sick pay and how much will I receive?

SSP is paid at a rate of £95.85 per week, and it is paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks. Previously SSP could not be claimed until a person’s fourth day off work, however, SSP can now be claimed from your first day absent from work. This change will apply retrospectively from the 13 March and will effectively increase the amount of sick pay you receive by £40.

What about contractual sick pay – will I still receive this if I am off sick due to coronavirus?

The law surrounding this is currently unclear. Some workers’ contracts might offer full pay to those off ill – albeit for a limited time. If that time runs out, or if you don’t get paid sick leave in the first place, you should still receive SSP.

Checking your employment contract

Your contract of employment should detail:

  • How much sick pay will be paid
  • How long you will get sick pay for
  • Any specific rules your employer has for claiming sick pay

If your employer does pay more than SSP, it’s known as ‘company’, ‘contractual’ or ‘occupational’ sick pay.

What happens if my employment contract doesn’t mention sick pay?

If your contract of employment doesn’t mention sick pay, then this doesn’t mean you are not entitled to any. While your contract might give you more, your employer cannot pay less than the SSP amount.

What happens if I am not eligible to receive sick pay?

If you are not eligible for SSP – perhaps you are self-employed, an independent contractor, or earn less than an average of £118 per week – you can still claim Universal Credit and/or contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

If you have received the maximum amount of sick pay in one year (28 weeks), you may also be able to apply for Universal Credit or ESA.  If you do not qualify for SSP, your employer must send you form SSP1 within seven days of you going off sick.

Will I receive sick pay if I am on a zero-hour contract?

If you are on a zero-hour contract, you might still be eligible for SSP. This might also be the case if you work part-time or you are on a fixed-term contract. As the standard SSP rules will still apply, you’ll need to have earned an average of at least £118 a week before tax over the past eight weeks.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) said it’s “good practice” for employers to treat time in self-isolation as sick leave and follow the usual sick leave policy.

Contact our Employment Lawyers in Ayrshire & Dumfries and Galloway

For further advice on your sickness rights and coronavirus, please contact The McKinstry Company today. You can call us on 01292 281711 or complete our online enquiry form and we will be back in touch.

This guide does not constitute legal advice and is provided for general information purposes only. If you require specific legal advice you should contact one of our lawyers who can advise you based on your own circumstances.

Please note this information is accurate as of 07/05/2020 and is subject to change as official guidance is adapted to reflect the implications of the virus.

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Our team of solicitors and support staff are still here for you. However we have postponed any face to face meetings, restricting communications to telephone, Skype and email. You can contact the Ayr office on 01292 281711 and the Girvan office on 01465 713118