On 21st February 2022, prime minister Boris Johnson announced plans to change the government’s Covid rules, including changes to Statutory Sick Pay for people off work with the virus.
As of 23rd February 2022, the £500 support payment for low-income workers self-isolating has been ceased.
On top of this, from 13th March 2022 the government plans to make Statutory Sick Pay payable from day 4 of self-isolation rather than day 1 as the rules currently dictate. This brings SSP for Covid self-isolation in line with other sicknesses, meaning that it will be treated the same as any other illness going forward.
What do the changes to sick pay mean for you?
Until 13th March 2022, Covid self-isolation has essentially been treated as a “special case” in terms of statutory sick pay as it allowed the claimant to receive payment from the very first day of lost earnings. Soon, however, this will no longer be the case and SSP will revert to being payable from day 4 just like any other sickness.
When you consider the current public health guidance to stay at home for 5 days if you have Covid symptoms, you may realise that this means you’d only be eligible for two days’ worth of SSP. Whilst the 5-day self-isolation is indeed no longer mandatory, it is still very much recommended. It especially impacts those of us who are too sick to return to work after 5 days as they will experience a greater loss of earnings.
Statutory sick pay only entitles the claimant to £96.35 per week, so with these new rules, combined with low-income workers missing out on the £500 support payment, it is easy to see that SSP is scarcely enough to cover the loss of earnings even at the best of times.
Employers’ sick pay schemes are very rare in the UK today, leaving the vast majority of us vulnerable to the struggles of surviving on £96.35 per week. There are, however, other ways to cover yourself in case you fall ill.
Enter: income protection
An excellent way to avoid the very real struggle caused by loss of earnings and meagre sick pay is to take out an income protection policy.
This type of insurance cover is becoming more and more popular, especially after the events of recent years. In short, income protection insurance is designed to pay a monthly benefit more or less equal to your monthly salary (after tax).
Income protection cover also tends to pay out for 12 – 24 months, as needed, if your GP signs you off work. Compared to SSP, which only pays for a maximum of 28 weeks, it is clear that income protection encompasses a far greater benefit.
Statistically, you are far more likely to need to claim on an income protection policy than any other life insurance product currently available. The money you put into a policy could be paid out many times over should you ever claim.
Here are some statistics on income protection from 2019, according to the Association of British Insurers:
- Almost £670 million paid out in 2019
- Average income protection payout per claim: £20,425.41
- 87.2% of all new claims were successfully paid out
- Number of claims paid: 27,275
Find out more about income protection and how it can help you by clicking here.