Return of the SSP rebate scheme for Covid related absences

Regulations have now been laid before parliament formally reinstating the SSP rebate scheme that came to an end on 30th September 2021. The rebate scheme allows businesses with less than 250 staff to recover up to 2 weeks of SSP paid out for absence due to either having covid-19 or isolating due to potential covid-19 infection.

The rebate scheme applies to businesses with less than 250 staff on their PAYE as of 30th November 2021 and covers covid-19 related absences on or after 21st December 2021. Further guidance is due to be published, with the expectation that claims can be made from mid-January. This change comes alongside the temporary changes allowing self-certification for sickness absence of up to 28 days, applicable until the 26th January 2022.

The scheme is temporary, with it due to come to an end on 24th March 2022 and, although limited to 2 weeks’ SSP, which works out as a maximum of £192.70 per worker, may be welcome for businesses who have seen staffing levels depleted by covid-19 absences. However, because it will only apply to employers with fewer than 250 staff on payroll, as with the previous rebate schemes, may not be available to all SME recruiters and umbrella companies because of the number of temp workers on their PAYE.

Right to work checks from 6 April 2022

Right to work checks are set to change from April 2022.

The removal of the ability to manually check the status of those with a biometric residence card or permit, or frontier work permit, and the introduction of new technology to allow identity checks on UK and Irish nationals, shows a move to online systems more suited for remote working and will enable employers to obtain their statutory excuse without having to meet the employee in person.

In order to complete these checks, the employer will need the individual’s date of birth and right to work share code.

Right to work checks prior to 6 April 2022

Biometric Resident Card, Biometric Resident Permit and Foreign Work Permit holders can currently choose to use either the Home Office online service or their physical card to evidence their right to work to an employer.

Employers can continue to conduct manual checks on physical cards for evidence of a right to work up to and including 5 April 2022.

Prior to 6 April 2022, according to government guidance employers cannot insist individuals use the online service and should not discriminate against those who wish to use their physical card. Employers can, however, ask individuals if they would like to use the online service.

Right to work checks from 6 April 2022

Employers will no longer be able to accept physical cards for the purposes of a right to work check even if it shows a later expiry date. BRCs, BRPs and FWPs will be removed from the lists of acceptable documents used to conduct a manual right to work check known as List A and List B.

From 6 April 2022, BRC, BRP and FWP holders will only be able to evidence their right to work using the Home Office online service.

Do I need to carry out retrospective checks on my workers?

The government guidance confirms that retrospective checks will not be required on biometric card holders who, before 6 April 2022, used their physical card to demonstrate their right to work. Employers will maintain a statutory excuse against any civil penalty if the initial checks were undertaken in line with the guidance that applied at the time the check was made.

Forklift driver who mistakenly broke Covid self-isolation guidelines by attending work was unfairly dismissed, tribunal rules

A remote tribunal found that a forklift driver who was sacked after he attended work under the assumption that his son was faking Covid symptoms was unfairly dismissed.

Mr D Lewis, who had been employed by the Benriach Distillery Company for 23 years before his dismissal, was accused of being “highly irresponsible” and “reckless” by the company’s HR team when he attended work while his son awaited the results of a Covid test.

However, the tribunal ruled that Lewis had nothing to gain by pretending his son didn’t have Covid because he would have been paid while he was self-isolating, and that he did not knowingly breach Scottish government guidance.