The Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Regulations 2021 have come into force as of 17 December 2021. These regulations introduced by the DWP and HMRC change the rules around self-certification of sickness absence. It was ordinarily the case that an employee could self-certify their absence for a period of 7 days after which time a fit note was required to be obtained and shown to the employer.
The new regulations have temporarily extended this to a period of 28 days. The reason for this is to decrease the workload of GPs and it is hoped that this will free up their time to roll out the vaccination booster programme which has been ramped up in order to tackle the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
This temporary change applies to absence periods which began on or after 10 December 2021, up to and including absences which begin on or before 26 January 2022. The normal seven-day self-certification period will be reinstated for absences beginning on or after 27 January 2022. Those who are already signed off by their doctors will continue to require to provide evidence of sickness when their fit notes expire.
Although this is a temporary change it is crucial that employers are aware of their obligations.
The other rules regarding Statutory Sick Pay remain in place. An important thing to remember is that if an employee does not inform you of their illness then SSP may be withheld for the days they were eligible to receive it but did not inform you. However, payment cannot be withheld if an employee has notified you of their sickness but is late in providing evidence.
Where an employer is concerned that the employee may not be genuinely unfit for work, HMRC advises that a standard doctor’s certificate or “fit note” should be accepted as conclusive proof of incapacity for SSP purposes, unless there is very strong evidence to the contrary.
If you have any questions on any of the issues mentioned in the above article, please contact Natalia Milne.