The Statutory Sick Pay extension in Wales
09 November 2020
The Welsh Government has announced that there will be additional support for any care workers who need to refrain from working due to the fact that they either have, or suspect that they have, COVID-19, or in scenarios where they are required to self-isolate.
The Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) enhancement scheme will provide funding to enable employers to pay any eligible workers at their full rate of pay if they cannot work because of coronavirus. It is intended to erase the financial disadvantage to care workers of staying away from work, meaning that, in turn, the most vulnerable citizens will be protected. The scheme will run until 31 March 2021.
Eligibility for the scheme is dependent on a person’s role, their type of employment, the reasons for their absence and the amount of sick pay they ordinarily get.
Eligible roles include:
- Employees of registered care homes (including children’s homes)
- Employees of domiciliary care services
- Agency care workers or agency nurses (when undertaking work booked by a registered care home or domiciliary care service)
- Bank or pool staff when booked to undertake a series of shifts
- Contracted staff providing daily input into care homes and having substantial contact with residents (for example catering staff)
- Personal assistants paid through direct payments
Extensive information regarding eligible roles can be found here.
Employees can work either full-time or part-time, work on a zero-hours, permanent or temporary contract, work from a care agency, be bank or pool staff, or be self-employed. They must be absent from work because they either have symptoms of, or test positive for, Covid-19, be self-isolating following instruction from the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect Service or be self-isolating because a member of their household is self-isolating.
They are eligible if they only receive SSP when they are off sick, or in scenarios where they are not eligible for SSP. Any individuals who already receive full pay for sickness absence are not eligible for the scheme.
SSP enhancements will not be provided in cases where somebody is absent because they have childcare or carer responsibilities, or needs to quarantine after foreign travel, or who cannot work due to being assessed as high risk using the All Wales Covid-19 workforce risk assessment tool.
Where employers and employees are eligible to participate in the scheme, there is a process to be followed. Any potential eligible employees are required to submit a brief declaration form, which confirms that they are happy for their personal data to be shared with their local authority to administer the scheme. The employee must inform their employer that they cannot work because of one of the reasons relating to Covid-19, as detailed above.
Once the SSP enhancement scheme form has been submitted, employers may pay employees their standard salary, and where hours are irregular, pay should be the average of the last eight weeks’ worth of pay. The employer must then advise the local authority and provide the employee’s National Insurance (NI) number, pay, the dates of absence and the reason for the absence. The local authority will then reimburse the employer accordingly.
Employers and care agencies need to:
- Advise staff of the availability of the scheme
- Issue declaration forms
- Retain declaration forms for audit and checking purposes, for a minimum of 24 months following the date of the payment
- Continue to pay employee or agency staff at full pay
- Submit claims to the local authority
The enhanced payment made to employees under the scheme is liable for tax and NI contributions, along with pension and student loan deductions.
The value of the enhanced pay is the difference between SSP (where employees are eligible) and the employee’s usual full pay. For care workers not eligible for SSP, the enhanced pay will equate to 100% of their usual full pay.
Organisations are reminded of their duty to comply with GDPR regulations.
Care workers could also be eligible for the Self-isolation support scheme if they are in receipt of benefits. This provides a £500 payment to individuals asked to self-isolate if they have Covid-19, or those identified as a close contact by the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect service.
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication. For all the latest information, news and resources on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting payroll professions, visit our Coronavirus hub.