On 28 May, the UK government launched its NHS Test and Trace strategy in the bid to help in the country’s fight against the Covid-19 crisis. With the new system in place this raises specific queries for employers and employees around how self-isolating employees can be paid and by whom. Catherine Wilson, Partner and Head of Employment at leading Yorkshire law firm Keebles LLP, explains the key elements of these changes.

To address these concerns, the government issued new Statutory Regulations on 26 May 2020 containing a further extension to Statutory Sick Pay entitlement and details of a new Statutory Sick Pay Rebate scheme.

In response to the Statutory Sick Pay changes, Catherine Wilson says: “Firstly, a person who has been notified under the Test and Trace system that they have had contact with a person with coronavirus and who is self-isolating for 14 days as a result will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, currently £95.85 per week, even if they are asymptomatic.

“Under this scheme, employers can submit a claim to HMRC to recover Statutory Sick Pay that has been paid as a result of Covid-19.

“The scheme is focused on those smaller employers with less than 250 employees throughout their entire PAYE system as of 28 February 2020 and where the employer had a PAYE Payroll scheme as of this date and still has this in place.

“Connected companies and charities can also make a claim where the combined number of employees was less than 250 on 28 February 2020.

“An employer can make a claim for a rebate for the same employee; however, it cannot be used for the same period of time.

“Employers will need to ensure that they have records of the Statutory Sick Pay that has been paid to employees as a condition of any claim for a rebate.  Like the Covid-19 Job Retention Scheme, this rebate scheme is a reimbursement scheme. A payment of Statutory Sick Pay must be made before any claim can be submitted.”

Catherine advises that full time employees, part time employees and employees on agency, flexible or zero hours contracts or fixed term contracts can claim.

Employees can be claimed for if they are self-isolating due to someone in their household showing symptoms and are therefore unable to attend work and/or they have received the letter from NHS telling them that they must self-isolate for 12 weeks and are shielding and/or, they have symptoms themselves.

Catherine adds: “A claim can be made for up to two weeks Statutory Sick Pay.  There are two different periods that can be claimed for – namely on or after 13 March 2020 for any employees who had Covid-19, symptoms, were self-isolating or living with someone with coronavirus symptoms and on or after 16 April 2020 for employees who have been shielding. The applicable rate for the March period is £94.25. This increased to the April onwards period to £95.85

“There is currently no date for the closure of this scheme and employers will need to hold certain records for three years after the date on which the payment for the claims received. This includes the dates of sickness absence, the reason for absence and the employees’ National Insurance number.

“The records will need to be maintained in compliance with normal procedures and, in particular, the GDPR.  The employer will receive a successful claim summary which must be printed or saved and kept until 31 December 2024.”

If you have further questions on any matters raised above, please contact employment@keebles.com for any further advice.  This general guidance is correct as of 28 May 2020 but may be subject to change.