To SSP or to Furlough?

Sadly, most employers will find the time comes when one of their employee may contract coronavirus. In such a situation, is it best to Furlough or pay the employee SSP?

If your employee is on sick leave or indeed self-isolating as a result of Coronavirus, they’ll be able to get SSP, (subject to the usual eligibility conditions applying). The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Furlough) is not intended for short-term absences from work due to sickness. One of the main reasons for this is that the scheme places employees on Furlough in 3 week periods. Someone who is self-isolating may only need to be away from work for 14 days.

Additionally, the rules around SSP have been changed which mean if you are sick or self-isolating due to Covid-19, employers can pay employees from day 1 (rather than from the usual day 4).

Short term illness/self-isolation should not be a consideration in deciding whether to furlough an employee. If, however, you want to furlough employees for business reasons and they are currently off sick, you canĀ do so. In these cases, the employee should no longer receive sick pay and would be classified as a furloughed employee.

You can also furlough employees who are being shielded or off on long-term sick leave. It is up to an employer to decide whether to furlough these employees.

Employers should note of course that they can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the SSP rebate scheme for the same employee but not both for the same period of time. When an employee is on furlough, you can only reclaim expenditure through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and not the SSP rebate scheme. If a non-furloughed employee becomes ill, needs to self-isolate or be shielded, then they might qualify for the SSP rebate scheme, enabling the employer to claim up to two weeks of SSP per employee.

Which to choose therefore will depend on how long you envisage the employee being away for, but SSP should generally speaking be the primary (and perhaps more apt) choice of the two.

For any assistance with the practical working of these or any employment-related questions, please contact our Head of Employment, Ilinca Mardarescu.