On 6 July 2020, the 1982 Statutory Sick Pay (General) Regulations were further amended for Covid-19.
Where an individual self isolates because they are in a “linked household” (sometimes called a “bubble”), and someone in that other household has Covid-19 symptoms, SSP is now payable.
If an individual has been notified as having been in close contact with an infected person under the contract tracing provisions, they are now also entitled to SSP.
Those extremely vulnerable individuals who were advised to shield will be receiving notification to end shielding. If this is the case, their SSP entitlement will cease at the date that they cease shielding.
Quite how an employer is supposed to enforce the new SSP rule is interesting because your employee could claim to be in a linked household with more than one household? How do you know? There is no definition of “linked household”.
In Wales, the Public Health Guidance envisages two households joining together to be treated as a single household. For example, this might be a household and one set of grandparents.
In England they have already said that there is not currently any definition on this, as the original definition that was in earlier regulations has been revoked. This technically means that somebody who self isolates because someone in their linked household has symptoms of Covid-19 will not actually be entitled to SSP until this loophole is plugged!
Anyone who has been shielding upon medical advice will have been able to be paid SSP although many employers have just furloughed those employees.
The Regulations also provide for entitlement to be triggered where somebody who ceased shielding is sent a further notification later advising them to shield again for a further period, so it is possible that those who are coming out of shielding may, at some point in the future, be advised to return to doing so. When they do they will be entitled to SSP again.
If the employee has been contacted through contact tracing, due to them having been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, they will have a written notification from the Department of Health & Social Care, Public Health England, Public Health Wales, National Health Service Trust, the Common Services Agency for the Scottish Health Service or any other person employed or engaged by a Government Department or public authority in communicable disease surveillance. This will be the employer’s evidence upon which to start paying SSP for the 14 days that that person will be self-isolating for. What this doesn’t help employers with is the person who is not formally contacted by a government agency but tells you they think that they have been in contact with someone who has become ill. Clearly we may not want that person in the workplace and for them to isolate but that person may not be in the definition of a bubble?
As ever employers are having to cut their own pathway through this with the legislation catching up belatedly.
Refreshing Law Limited
20 July 2020