The Government recently published its “Living with Covid-19” strategy, which sets out plans to remove the remaining restrictions and bring an end to the financial packages that were put in place to support self-isolation. As part of this plan, the Statutory Sick Pay (‘SSP’) Rebate Scheme will close, meaning employers will no longer be able to claim back SSP for their employees’ coronavirus-related absences or self-isolation.
The Scheme will close on 17 March 2022, and employers will have until 24 March 2022 to submit any new claims for absence periods up until the closure date, or to amend claims that have already been submitted.
From 24 March 2022, pre-pandemic SSP arrangements will return, meaning employers should revert to paying SSP from the fourth day of sickness, rather than the first. This will apply to all employees, regardless of the reason for their sickness absence.
Whilst employers can decide to ‘top up’ SSP to encourage self-isolation, they will no longer be able to claim reimbursement under the Rebate Scheme. As a result, employers will have to weigh up the benefits of maintaining, as far as possible, a Covid-free workplace, against the additional cost of sick pay involved in ensuring that employees carrying possible infection are not forced to attend work because they cannot afford to be absent.
In the coming weeks, we will be publishing our “Living with Covid-19 Workplace Guidance”, which will consider the issues faced by employers since the scrapping of the coronavirus regulations.