Sickness absence – SSP
Eligible employees who are off sick are entitled to statutory sick pay of £96.35 per week for up to 28 weeks. The employee must earn on average £120 or more per week and must be off work for at least 4 days in a row (including non -working days). Medical evidence is usually required for statutory sick pay purposes. Most employers allow employees to self-certify absence of up to 7 days, with a GP note required for longer absences.
For a short period only – for absences between 10 December 2021 and 26 January 2022 – an employee can self-certify their absence for up to 28 days rather than the normal 7 days. Employees will only need a GP fit note if they are off for more than 28 days (including non-working day). This is a short-term measure designed to reduce pressure on GPs at a time where millions of people will be off work with Covid, and doctors are heavily involved in rolling out booster jabs in the race against the Omicron variant.
There may also be a knock-on effect for employers who offer contractual sick pay at more than the SSP rate. Contractual sick pay is often dependent on a GP note after 7 days. A request could still be made to a GP between these dates but would probably attract a fee as a private medical certificate. Such a request would also place an extra burden on GPs whose efforts are rightly being directed elsewhere. Employers should scrutinise contracts and policies which may allow employers to seek supporting medical evidence at an earlier stage and take advice where necessary. It is also possible that the measures could be extended if it is necessary to support the vaccination programme in the new year, so keep an eye out for updates.
Adrian Fryer, Partner & Head of Employment
t: 0151 224 0539