Under standard rules in the UK, employers do not have to pay SSP to an employee until the fourth qualifying day in the Period of Incapacity for Work (PIW). The PIW is a period of sickness lasting four or more consecutive calendar days, not all of which may be qualifying days.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government suspended the three-day wait for COVID-related SSP, meaning that employers must pay it from the first qualifying day.
The amendment to the SSP rules was made in the Coronavirus Act 2020 which is due to expire after two years. This means that, unless there is an intervention to continue the measure, COVID-related SSP waiting time will automatically revert to three days on 25 March 2022.
Frank Haskew, Head of the Tax Faculty at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), said:
'The SSP rules were not really designed with a highly infectious global pandemic in mind, which is why the current easements have been welcome.
'While some employees who are ill from coronavirus or required to self-isolate may be unable to afford not to go to work unless they are paid SSP for the first three days, there are also small businesses where the unreimbursed cost of paying three days' coronavirus-related SSP to employees is a real burden.'
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