Everything you need to know about statutory sick pay amid coronavirus outbreak

A sign directs people to the nearest NHS coronavirus testing pod (Photo: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Coronavirus is continuing to spread across the UK, with the government moving into the Delay Phase of its four stage plan today (12 March).

This is everything you need to know about your statutory sick pay rights, which were revealed in the Budget 2020 on 11 March.

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Will I get sick pay when self isolating?

The Budget 2020, revealed on Wednesday 11 March, outlined the financial support that would be available to those affected by coronavirus.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) “will now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or those unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with Government advice”.

The extended SSP will be available for all those who are advised to self-isolate, even if they haven’t yet presented with symptoms.

This announcement goes hand-in-hand with the change announced by the prime minister on March 4 that SSP will be payable from day one instead of day four for affected individuals.

Boris Johnson told MPs: “I can today announce that the Health Secretary will bring forward, part part of our emergency legislation measures, to allow the payment of Statutory Sick Pay from the very first day you are sick instead of four days under the current rules.

“No one should be penalised for doing the right thing.”

What if I’m self employed?

The Budget explains that those who are not eligible for SPP, such as self employed people or those earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, can now “more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance”.

The document explains: “For the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those who have COVID-19 or are self isolating according to government advice, ensuring self-employed claimants will receive support.”

It also states that people will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments upfront “without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre if they are advised to self-isolate”.

How much is statutory sick pay?

The government website says that you can get £94.25 per week of statutory sick pay for up to 28 weeks.

SSP is paid by your employer weekly or monthly, the same as how your regular wages are paid.

Do I need a note from the GP?

In an effort to keep COVID-19 contained, people advised to self-isolate will be able to get an alternative note by contacting NHS 111, rather than going in person to the GP.

More details about how you’ll be able to do this are still to come.

Coronavirus fact box

Everything you need to know about coronavirus.

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

When to call NHS 111

NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.