The Government amended the Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Regulations 2021 on 16 December 2021 in relation to the rules on self-certification for sickness. The change temporarily extends the period that an employee can self-certify for sickness absence (period of incapacity for work) for SSP purposes from 7 calendar days to 28 calendar days.
This temporary change to the regulations will free up GP surgeries and allow them to focus on the Covid-19 booster vaccinations.
The change to the period of self-certification came into force on 17 December 2021 and expires at the end of 26 January 2022, unless any further changes are made.
The regulations state that:
- The change covers sickness that commenced prior to 17 December (when the regulations came into force) and has lasted no longer than 7 days, i.e. from 10 December 2021
- Those that commenced on any day between 17 December 2021 and 26 January 2022
After 28 days of sickness absence, the employer is entitled to ask the employee for a doctor’s fit note. Although the employer can accept evidence from an Allied Health Professional, herbalist, chiropractor, acupuncturist or designated Christian Scientist. However, if the employer is in any doubt about the evidence provided, they are entitled to ask for a doctor’s fit note.
Employees must notify their employer that they are sick according to company policy. For SSP purposes, employers must allow employees to notify them of their sickness by the end of their first day of absence at least.
The employer is unable to stipulate that an employee must notify them by a specific time. For example, they cannot state that the employee must report in sick by 10 am if they are paying SSP. They are however, able to set their own rules for company sick pay.
In the absence of a company sickness policy, SSP rules allow an employee seven days to notify their employer that they are sick. Employees must also keep their employer informed of any ongoing sickness.
Employers can accept self-certification verbally, by letter or by the employee completing for SC2 or a similar form of the employer’s own design.
Employers are entitled to withhold payment for any days of absence that are not covered by evidence of sickness. They cannot however withhold payment if the medical certificate is simply received late.
Guidance on this change came be found here on Gov.uk