Further to a number of important changes to statutory sick pay (SSP), the Statutory Sick Pay (Coronavirus) (Suspension of Waiting Days and General Amendment) Regulations 2020 have now been passed, with effect from 28 March.

The regulations retrospectively suspend the rule whereby employees had to wait until the fourth day of being off sick (LELR 661) before they could be paid SSP. Instead, with effect from 13 March 2020, SSP is payable to employees from day one of absence if they are incapable of work for a reason related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

As the regulations are retrospective to 13 March, anyone who had to wait four days to receive their SSP after that date should be entitled to back pay. 

Under the regulations, employees are deemed to be incapable for work related to coronavirus (COVID-19) if the employee is: 

  • incapable by reason of infection or contamination with coronavirus (COVID-19); or is
  • deemed to be incapable, by reason of coronavirus (COVID-19), of doing work which the employee can reasonably be expected to do under their contact.


A person is deemed incapable of work if they are isolating themselves from other people in order to prevent infection or contamination with coronavirus (COVID-19).

The regulations define someone who is isolating themselves due to coronavirus (COVID-19) if:

  • They have symptoms of the virus, however mild, and are staying at home for seven days, beginning with the day on which the symptoms started (day one).
  • They live with someone who is self-isolating and that person is staying at home for 14 days, beginning with day one.
  • The person is staying at home because they live with someone who is self-isolating, then develops the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) themselves, however mild, and is staying at home for seven days, beginning with the day the symptoms started.


The symptoms, as set out in the regulations, mean the recent onset of a continuous cough, a high temperature or both or any other symptoms specified by the chief medical officer or one of their deputies as amended from time to time.

The regulations also remove the eight-month time limit contained within the Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) Regulations 2020 that came into effect on 12 March (LELR 663) and which set out the conditions for workers needing to claim SSP as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Secretary of State will keep the provisions under review in line with corresponding provision in the Coronavirus Act 2020.

It should be noted that workers who are off sick can decide to take holidays during the period of sick leave. In particular, they may decide to do this if they have exhausted their contractual sick pay and want to continue receiving full pay.

Articles shared by Thompsons relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) are correct at the time of publication. You should check the government's guidelines for the latest information and advice at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.