Explanatory Notes

Statutory sick pay

74 Statutory Sick Pay ("SSP") was introduced in 1983. It is paid by an employer to an employee who is absent from work due to sickness. SSP is paid at a flat weekly rate and may be paid for maximum of 28 weeks.

75 The legislative framework for SSP is set out in Part 11 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 ("SSCBA") and Part X1 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits (Northern Ireland) Act 1992 and associated regulations.

76 The current Statutory Sick Pay system does not provide the flexibility required for the response to managing and mitigating the effects of a covid-19 pandemic.  In the event of a severe Covid-19 outbreak in the UK, the number of people off work would increase significantly.  This would present a significant financial burden on employers through increased SSP costs. The legislative changes proposed are intended to provide the ability to provide relief to employers, with the primary focus being on small and medium size enterprises.

77 The Bill will enable the Secretary of State to make regulations regarding the recovery from HMRC of additional payments of Statutory Sick Pay ("SSP") by certain employers for absences related to covid-19.  The ability to recover SSP is important so that employers are supported in a period when their payments of SSP are likely to escalate. It is also necessary to ensure that employees are incentivised not to attend work when advised not to do so for reasons of health security.

78 Ordinarily, statutory sick pay is not payable for the first three days of sickness. These are commonly referred to as "waiting days".  This may discourage people from taking sick days in order to prevent the spread of covid-19.  The Bill therefore allows for the temporary suspension of waiting days for those employees who are absent from work due to covid-19, should this be necessary.

79 The approach to statutory sick pay and the waiving of the waiting days needs flexibility and to align with the most up-to-date public health guidance.  The Bill will allow guidance issued by Public Health England, National Health Services Scotland, Public Health Wales and the Regional Agency for Public Health and Social Well-being to used when determining whether an employee should be deemed to be incapable of work by reason of covid-19, for example because the employee is self-isolating. It is anticipated that the guidance will change frequently and it is necessary to ensure that employees who self-isolate in accordance with whatever is the current guidance are deemed incapable for work and entitled to SSP from day


Prepared 18th March 2020