How can businesses manage their team...
Since the start of the pandemic, businesses have gone above and beyond to survive during the most uncertain time in...
Date posted: 29th July 2021
Since the start of the pandemic, businesses have gone above and beyond to survive during the most uncertain time in recent history. With restrictions being lifted in England and the rest of the UK planning to follow suit, there are lots of things for business leaders to be hopeful for.
But as a result of restrictions lifting and people rediscovering a social life that resembles something of normality, the likelihood of coming into contact with someone who has COVID-19 has increased. Since restrictions in England were lifted on the 19th July, there have been over half a million people contacted by NHS Test and Trace (or via NHS COVID-19 app) being told to self-isolate. With this number likely to continue to rise, it presents a brand new challenge for businesses across the UK dealing with a different kind of uncertainty.
So, we have put together some key advice and tips for managing a fully functional workforce that could be hindered at any given moment:
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
SSP is key for all businesses in the current climate but none more so than SMEs.
SSP is available for eligible individuals self-isolating because they (or their household/support bubble) are showing symptoms or have been diagnosed with Covid-19. SSP can also be claimed if an employee is self-isolating because they’ve been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that they have come into contact with someone with coronavirus.
SMEs may be eligible to claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19) via the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme. The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks SSP starting from the first qualifying day of sickness.
It is important to note that individuals cannot get SSP if they are self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK and do not need to self-isolate for any other reason.
You can find out more about the Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme, here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-back-statutory-sick-pay-paid-to-employees-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19
Test and Trace Support payment Scheme
Of course, there are several industries that have been fortunate enough to adapt well and work from home and a test and trace isolation, whilst frustrating, does not have to bring all proceedings to a sharp halt.
However, those who are not able to work from home should be able to access the NHS Test and Trace support payment scheme. If that is the case and an individual is required to self-isolate because of a test and trace notification, then a payment of £500 can be made available for both employed and self-employed people in the UK.
Certain criteria will apply and you can find out more about TTSPS here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/test-and-trace-support-payment-scheme-claiming-financial-support/claiming-financial-support-under-the-test-and-trace-support-payment-scheme
Requesting medical proof
With the high volume of disruptions the NHS Test and Trace (or NHS COVID-19 app) is causing to businesses, it is understandable that business leaders may well require proof of notification in order to limit the disruption caused.
If an employee has been advised to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app, they will be provided with a notification that they can present as evidence when asked. The same rules apply when employers require proof of a positive Covid test. Employees can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online alongside a positive test notification that can be presented as proof if requested by an employer.
When it then comes to determining eligibility for statutory sick pay, each business and employer is different. Businesses are able to set their own rules on what evidence they reasonably require of employees to qualify. As it stands, legislation does not require that the evidence is in the form of a fit note.
Whilst there is still legislation, schemes and government guidelines available that should all be followed carefully, the reality is that the way in which each business navigates its way through the latest wave of the pandemic is completely unique. Over the past 18-months or so, employers have learnt far more about their business model, their teams capabilities, their work force and their goals than any advice could ever reflect clearly.
If you need any guidance for managing the latest wave of the Covid crisis and making sure that your business is operating to the highest possible standards, whilst being completely compliant with all laws and regulations, then reach out to Kingswood Group’s expert team today. Book a FREE consultation and let our experienced team take care of your HR challenges so you can focus on doing what you do best!
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