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Statutory sick pay - new rules in force today

The government has introduced The Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Regulations 2021 which come into force today (Friday 17 December 2021). These extend the period employees can self-certify they are sick to 28 days rather than the usual seven days.

Why have the self-certification rules changed?

The government has changed the rules to free up GP's to concentrate on rolling out the vaccine booster programme which has been accelerated to try and combat the threat from the Omicron variant. 

Does it apply to employees who became ill before 17 December?

It applies to anyone who first became ill after 9 December (so from 10 December) who remains unfit to work after seven days. However, anyone who is already signed off work via their GP will need to continue to obtain fit notes when their existing ones expire. 

Is this a permanent change?

No. These changes apply from 17 December 2021 through to 26 January 2022.

Can we still ask an employee to get a fit note from their GP if we're not convinced they are genuinely ill?

No. These new rules only change the self-certification period. All of the other rules around SSP and self-certification continue to apply.

So, you must accept a fit note at face value unless you have convincing evidence which casts doubt on whether your employee is genuinely ill. We looked at the options open to employers in our article: Is your employee sick or skiving?

Where can we find out more information?

The government has updated its guidance note on SSP.

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