Following on from the Chancellor’s Budget announcements on 11th March 2020, it has been decided that the government will provide support to small businesses by refunding eligible statutory sick pay costs to tackle problems caused by the impact of coronavirus. The eligibility criteria are as follows:
- The business must employ fewer than 250 employees (as of 28 February 2020).
- The sickness absence must be as a result of coronavirus. This includes those who are advised to self-isolate, regardless of whether or not they are showing any symptoms, as well as those who are actually diagnosed with coronavirus.
- The refund will be limited to 14 days per employee.
With statutory sick pay currently paid at £94.25 per week, the estimated cost is £2billion and will provide support to up to 2 million businesses. It is not known yet who long this will be in place, however we anticipate that this will be a temporary measure.
Employers should ensure that they maintain full records of staff absences and the reasons for the absence. They should not ask for a doctor’s note from employees who are off sick as a result of coronavirus.
It is not yet known when it will be refunded, or how a refund will be processed. However, we are told that the government will be working with employers over the coming months to set up a repayment mechanism as soon as possible.