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Statutory sick pay (SSP) rates are going up today while Covid cases also continue to rise. The government is introducing new legislation allowing employees to go to work with the virus. Critics warn that the latest increase adds further pressure on employers just at a time when Covid is causing chaos among workers.
Even though employers will have their own rules, there are laws in place to protect you if you’re sick for four days or more.
Statutory sick pay is a legal, mandatory entitlement for all employees, including agency, casual, part time and fixed-term employees, but not the self-employed.
UK earners on at least £120 a week before tax are entitled to sick pay, paid by their employer, not the government.
Before today the allowance was £96.35 a week for up to 28 weeks, with tax and NI deducted on top. From 6 April, the rate per week goes up to to £99.35.
From February 24 the government dropped mandatory absence with Covid meaning if you test positive, you can still go to work should you choose. And since April 1, employers are not legally required to consider Covid in workplace risk assessments, meaning if you call in sick due to Covid, you may not get sick pay – and there are fears this may escalate cases of the virus as employees feel obliged to work.
This, on top of England scrapping free coronavirus tests for most, puts more pressure on people to risk catching or passing on their illness due to feeling obliged to work.
Noelle Murphy, senior HR practice editor at XpertHR, said the rise amounts to just £3 a week: “With the rate of inflation standing at 6.2%, energy bills increasing and car fuel also rising sharply, the rate of statutory sick pays falls well short of supporting an individual who cannot work due to sickness.”
He also outlined the pressure this puts on employees to rerun to work despite their illness: “With the return to the workplace well under way, employees who attend the office while unwell will jeopardise not only their own wellbeing but also the wellbeing of their colleagues.
“Alongside this, of course, with the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme now closed as of 24th March, it puts pressure on employers to cover statutory sick pay for employees in a time when sickness absence for reasons due to Covid continue to be very prevalent.”
We talk about Income Protection Insurance here.