The chancellor of the exchequer has announced £7 billion of extraordinary measures to help support businesses and individuals who will be affected by the covid-19 coronavirus outbreak in his first Budget today.
The cost of statutory sick pay (SSP) for coronavirus-related absence will be covered for businesses with fewer than 250 employees, providing over £2 billion for up to two million businesses. Rishi Sunak said: “The best way to support people is to protect their jobs – and we do that by supporting our businesses.”
Addressing measures relating to coronavirus before moving on to his main Budget address, Sunak confirmed, as reported in Personnel Today last week, that SSP will be available “to all those advised to self-isolate even if they haven’t yet presented with symptoms”, adding that people would soon be able to obtain a sick note by contacting 111 rather than having to go to the doctors.
“The measures I have announced today on statutory sick pay are crucial to support those who need to take time of work, but that cost will be borne by business. And if we expect 20% of the workforce to be unable to work at any one time, the cumulative cost would hit our small and medium size businesses hard.
“In recognition of these exceptional circumstances, today I am taking a significant step. For businesses with fewer than 250 employees I have decided that the cost of providing statutory sick pay to any employee of work due to coronavirus will for up to 14 days be refunded by the government in full.”
He acknowledged that not everyone is eligible for SSP, for example the self-employed or people earning below the lower earnings limit of £118 per week.