• International Workplace
  • 11 March 2020

Sick pay from day one for those affected by coronavirus

Statutory Sick Pay will be made available from day one when self-isolating, instead of day four, the Prime Minister has announced. The move will be included in emergency legislation to deal with coronavirus.

Updating Parliament on the government’s response, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs:

“I can today announce that the Health Secretary will bring forward, as 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.”

Explaining the rationale for the measure, the Prime Minister had earlier said:

“We are not at the point yet where we are asking large numbers of people to self-isolate, but that may of course come if large numbers have the symptoms. If they stay at home, they are helping to protect all of us by preventing the spread of the virus.”

The change will be a temporary measure to respond to the outbreak and will lapse when it is no longer required. The government has also issued a report highlighting that a fifth of UK employees could be sick at the same time during peak outbreak periods of Coronavirus.

The report, titled Coronavirus: Action plan, published on 3 March 2020 by the Department of Health and Social Care, highlighted how the recent outbreak of Coronavirus could affect UK businesses. The report stated that, although data is still emerging, in a ‘stretching scenario’ this virus could result in one-fifth of employees being absent from work simultaneously.

New guidance for employers and businesses is available from the government on Coronavirus.

This guidance will assist employers and businesses in providing advice to their staff on:

  • the novel coronavirus, COVID-19;
  • how to help prevent spread of all respiratory infections, including COVID-19;
  • what to do if someone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in business settings;
  • what advice to give to individuals who have travelled to specific areas; and
  • actions to take if staff come into contact with someone who is self-isolating or is a possible or confirmed case of COVID-19.