Temporary Change to Fit Notes
The Government has announced an extension to the time period that employees can self-certify sick from 7 days to 28 days, effective from Friday 17 December.
For Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), where employees go off sick on or after 10 December 2021, employers can only ask employees for proof of sickness (such as a fit note) after 28 days of sickness (including non-working days). Proof of sickness cannot be requested earlier than 28 days.
Fit notes do not have to be provided for DWP benefit claims until 27 January. This will not affect claims to benefit.
The Government announced the changes “to give GP’s more time to work on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) booster programme.”
Employers should be careful to make it clear to staff that this is a temporary change only, and not a permanent change to the sickness absence notification procedure.
What the changes mean:
- Those who go off sick on or after 10 December, up to and including 26 January 2022 are not required to give proof of sickness for SSP purposes until they’ve been off for 28 days or more
- Those who started their sick leave before 10 December 2021 must continue to provide fit notes when they are off work for more than 7 days in a row (including non-working days), and obtain further fit notes when their existing ones expire
- The self-certification period will go back to seven days for absences beginning on or after 27 January 2022 (unless these rules are extended)
For further information, including Fit Note Guidance for Employers and Line Managers, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fit-note
SSP Rebate Scheme Reintroduced
The SSP rebate scheme has been reactivated as of 21 December 2021 in response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant and its resulting effect on business.
The scheme will refund small and medium-sized employers’ COVID-related SSP costs for up to two weeks per employee. The previous rebate scheme ended on 30 September 2021.
Employers will be eligible for the scheme if they:
- are UK-based
- employed fewer than 250 employees as of 30 November 2021
- had a PAYE payroll system as off 30 November 2021
- have already paid their employees’ COVID-related SSP
Employers will be able to claim the costs for up to two weeks of SSP per employee that has to take time off because of COVID-19. This two-week limit will be reset so an employer will be able to claim up to two weeks per employee regardless of whether they have claimed under the previous scheme for that employee.
Employers will be able to make a claim through HMRC from mid-January 2022 onwards. The government will keep the duration of the scheme under review.