We are living in uncertain times and people are understandably worried. Keeping your dental practice running with potentially less patients coming through the door and with fewer staff due to them having childcare issues will be a massive challenge.
We’ve had a number of enquiries recently about paying staff during this period of uncertainty. Some of the more frequently asked questions are answered below:
An employee has informed me that they are self-isolating as they themselves are showing symptoms, do I have to pay them their usual salary?
It will depend on the terms of their contract. Some contracts include provision for contractual sick pay which may be equal to, or less than, their usual pay. However, the pay for any sick leave period cannot be less than statutory sick pay (SSP) – £94.25 per week. The Government have announced previously that those who are self-isolating will be entitled to SSP from Day 1 of their isolation period and, as a way to help businesses, they have pledged to fund 2-weeks of SSP per employee. If the employee takes more than 7 days of sick leave they would normally need to provide a doctors’ fit note however, the Government have relaxed this requirement and in its place made available an “isolation note” which can be obtained by the employee from the NHS111 website.
My nurse has phoned in to tell us that her husband is showing symptoms of the virus and she has been advised to self-isolate for the next 14-days. Is she still entitled to full pay or should it be treated as unpaid leave?
In these circumstances, the Government have confirmed such employees are also entitled to SSP and therefore the guidance noted in the question above will apply.
I have a new employee who I’ve had to send home because they are showing symptoms of coronavirus, are they entitled to SSP?
Yes, provided that employee was set to earn on average more than £118 per week and has done at least some work for you, then they will be entitled to SSP.
Our cleaner who we pay £100 per week has just informed us she is self-isolating, is she entitled to SSP?
No, you would not be required to pay her sick pay because she is earning less than £118 per week. To help such individuals, the Government have announced that they will be able to apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit more easily. Further details can be found here.
I’m the director of my own company but don’t currently take a formal salary. In case I do fall foul of the coronavirus, should I start to take a salary in order to qualify for the SSP funding available from the Government?
Assuming that you are remunerated from your company by way of dividends, it’s likely the additional tax that you would pay on a salary would outweigh the benefit of SSP funding. It’s also worthwhile remembering that the Government are only funding 2-weeks of SSP – the equivalent of £188.
I’ve had four staff members begin isolation this week, how can I claim the SSP back from the Government?
Unfortunately, guidance has yet to be published on the system for SSP reclaim. Further details will be published in the coming weeks but in the meantime, we would advise keeping details of each employee’s sick leave period and the amount of SSP paid to them.
Two of my employees have said that they have no childcare now that the schools have closed and so won’t be able to come to work. What should I do?
Such employees would be entitled to take a reasonable amount of time off for dependents, but this would be treated as unpaid leave (good for you but not so good for your employee). You could agree for some of the time off to be taken as annual leave but, as schools are closed until further notice, this may not be a feasible long-term plan. It’s likely that they will want to work to keep the money coming in so be flexible and keep the lines of communication open. Alternatively, it might be worth reassessing your work force and “furlough” those employees with childcare difficulties in order to qualify for the 80% Government funding under the “Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.” You can find detailed furlough guidance here.
If you have any further questions regarding paying your employees during these uncertain times, please get in touch.