COVID sick pay scheme to end in September

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Date: 21 September 2021

Young businesswoman sick in the office

The government scheme enabling small businesses to recoup statutory sick pay costs due to coronavirus will end at the end of September, and any outstanding claims must be made by 31 December 2021.

Legislation ending the coronavirus statutory sick pay rebate scheme was laid before Parliament on 9 September.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, employers were obliged to pay statutory sick pay (SSP) to eligible employees unable to work because of sickness. It is paid at a flat rate of £96.35 (at the current rate) for up to 28 weeks. The full cost of SSP is met by the employer.

To support employers during the pandemic the government legislated to allow certain small and medium-sized employers to reclaim some, or all, of their SSP costs from HMRC via the SSPRS.

Under the new regulations, employers will not be able to reclaim SSP from 30 September 2021 and any claims relating to periods prior to that date must have been filed by 31 December 2021.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has warned that it seems that the suspension of the requirement to wait for three days before SSP is paid has not yet been repealed. The three-day rule was suspended temporarily during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis to encourage people to stay at home as soon as they felt ill.

It means that small businesses must continue to pay SSP from the first day an employee is unable to work, making SSP more expensive than it was before the pandemic. The ICAEW Tax Faculty has asked the government for clarification on this point.

With many workers returning to the office, employers are also focusing on making sure that their workplace is sufficiently sanitised to prevent the spread of coronavirus. New research by Chicopee has highlighted the germ hotspots in the workplace and its findings reveal that the office kettle and hand sanitiser bottles are actually dirtier than a toilet seat.

Chicopee swabbed the main touchpoints in offices to test for aerobic bacteria, yeast and mould. The research found that the computer mouse was the dirtiest touchpoint in the office, followed by the kettle, the fridge, laptops, bathroom locks and hand sanitiser bottles. Printers, light switches, desk phones and kitchen cupboards were also found to harbour a large number of bacteria. Interestingly, the toilet seat did not even make the top ten germ hotspots.

Eileen Calder, product manager wipes, EMEIA at Chicopee said: "It was no surprise that touchpoints that are contacted by multiple people and warm, humid environments, such as the kettle, are a breeding ground, but these are spots that could potentially be missed during a robust cleaning regime. The research has revealed just how important it is to keep office environments clean, using quality products multiple times a day to minimise risk."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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