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December 2021

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of the Omicron variant, the Government has announced a temporary change to the sickness absence reporting regulations and the reintroduction of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme.

What do these changes mean for employers?

1. Sickness Absence Reporting Regulations

The Government has extended the length of time for which employees can self-certify sickness absence without providing medical evidence (e.g. a fit note from a GP or other medical certificate) from 7 days to 28 days.

This change applies in respect of sickness absences which began on or after 10 December 2021, up to (and including) 26 January 2022. Any period of sickness absence beyond 28 days (including non-working days) will require a fit note.

Employees who are unable to attend work because they are self-isolating on account of COVID-19 should obtain an ‘isolation note’ from NHS 111.

2. SSP Rebate Scheme

The Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS), which reimbursed employers for the statutory sick pay paid to employees due to COVID-19, has been reinstated with effect from 21 December 2021.

Under the scheme, employers can reclaim up to two weeks’ worth of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) per employee for COVID-related sickness absences. SSP for these absences will also be paid from the first day of absence, rather than day four as is usual.

The SSPRS is available to employers that meet the following conditions:

• Only employers with fewer than 250 employees, as of 30th November 2021, are eligible for the scheme;

• Employers can only reclaim up to two weeks’ worth of SSP, even if the employee is off for longer;

• SSP is only reimbursed where the sickness absence is due to coronavirus and the employee qualifies for SSP in the normal way; and

• The employer’s PAYE payroll scheme must have been created and started on, or before, 30th November 2021.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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