My partner – who I live with – has recently contracted Covid and is very ill with it.
He obviously cannot work and cannot claim sick pay, as he is only six weeks into his new job and will not get paid until he has been there for three months.
I am also having to isolate, despite consistently testing negative and having no symptoms, as we live together and are in close contact.
However, I too am not getting paid to stay off work, which seems really unfair. We’re now concerned about our finances going forward. Is it legal for us not to get sick pay – and is there any other financial support available?
Employees have been told they are not able to claim sick pay when isolating due to Covid-19
Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: I am sorry to hear that your partner has caught coronavirus and is, unfortunately, very sick.
You say he has had a fever, has been violently sick and is now becoming a bit confused.
Adding to the bad news, your partner has only recently started his new job and it is his contract that he is unable to claim sick pay until he has been in the position for at least three months.
Whilst you have been in your job for years, you have also been told you will not receive any sick pay.
Your job is also location-based and you are unable to work from home.
Obviously this is of great concern to you both, as it means you will miss out on two salaries for an unknown amount of time as your partner continues to suffer from the virus.
Although it seems unfair that you will not get any financial compensation, it sounds like sick pay has not been written into your contract.
Usually, employees get statutory sick pay of £96.35 per week if they are too ill to work which is paid by their employer for up to 28 weeks.
Employees may also get more funds if their company has a sick pay scheme, however, it sounds like your firm does not.
Sick pay is paid by your employer in the same way as your normal wages with tax and National Insurance deducted.
Most people’s employers will offer sick pay if isolating but some don’t have it in their contracts
The rules have changed slightly with coronavirus and now employees could get sick pay if they are self-isolating because they or someone they live with has Covid-19 symptoms. or has tested positive for the virus, such as yourself.
You can also get sick pay if you’ve been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that you’ve been in contact with someone with Covid-19 or someone in your support bubble has symptoms or has tested positive.
In your case, as you’re self-isolating because you or someone you live with has symptoms, or has tested positive for Covid, you must self-isolate for at least four days to be eligible – if your contract said you could claim it.
Jo Mackie, employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon, replies: If an employee has Covid 19, which means they cannot (and should not) come to work then they may be entitled to sick pay.
This will be at least Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), and they will be eligible for every day they are sick.
To be eligible for SSP you must be an employee who has performed some work for your employer, earn an average of at least £120 per week and have been ill or self-isolating for at least four consecutive days which includes non-working days.
You must tell your employer within seven days of being ill. Your employer may pay more than SSP and that will be ‘contractual sick pay’. Details of what that is and if you are eligible will be found in your employment contract.
An employee will need to provide evidence, confirmation of a positive test for example, and if the sickness lasts longer than the period of self-isolation required – or 7 days whichever is sooner – then a doctor’s sick note.
Employers pay the SSP to the employee and can then claim it back from HMRC.
Grace Gausden, This is Money, adds: It may be that, after employees tell their employers they are having to isolate, the employer refuses to hand out sick pay as it is not in the employee’s contract.
However, if it is in the contract and you think you are not getting the right amount, talk to your employer.
If you’re still not happy, contact the HM Revenue and Customs enquiry line.
For those who did have it in their contract, how much sick pay they get and how long they get it for will depend on what the contract says.
Fortunately for you, your council is running a scheme where residents can apply for up to £738 as a support payment for those who are isolating for over 10 days due to the coronavirus.
For others in a similar position to you – who cannot claim sick pay from their employer – it will be worth checking with their local authority to see if they are putting on anything similar.
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