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Support for care workers who are required to stay off work due to actual or suspected COVID-19 or because they have to self-isolate.

First published:
30 October 2020
Last updated:

The Statutory sick pay enhancement scheme supports care workers who only get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) (gov.uk) when absent or are not eligible for SSP.

It provides funding to allow employers to pay eligible workers at full pay if they cannot work due to COVID-19.

This removes the financial disadvantage to care workers of staying away from work. This will help to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

The scheme runs until 31 March 2021.

Eligibility

Eligibility for the scheme depends on:

  • your role
  • types of employment
  • reasons for absence
  • what sick pay you get

Your role

To be eligible you must be:

  • an employee of a registered care home (including children’s homes)
  • an employee of a domiciliary care service
  • an agency care worker or agency nurse (with work booked in with a registered care home or domiciliary care service)
  • bank or pool staff booked to undertake a series of shifts
  • contracted staff providing daily essential services such as routine catering in care homes and having substantial contact with residents
  • a Personal Assistant paid through direct payments

If you have two jobs and both are eligible for the scheme, you may claim payments in respect of both part-time wages.

Types of employment

To be eligible you can be:

  • full-time or part-time
  • subject to a zero hours employment contract
  • subject to a permanent or temporary contract
  • working from a care agency
  • bank or pool staff
  • self-employed

Reasons for absence

You must be taking time off work for one of the following reasons:

  • having symptoms of COVID-19
  • testing positive for COVID-19
  • self-isolating due to being identified as a contact by the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect service
  • self-isolating because a member of your household has symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19

Read the current self-isolation guidance.

The periods for which the SSP Enhancement payment is made depends on the length of self-isolation set out in current guidance. This can change so it is important you keep up to date with current requirements.

The enhanced payment is payable from the first day of absence and continues for the maximum periods outlined in current guidance.

You are expected to seek a COVID-19 test immediately and return to work as soon as you can, in line with current guidance.

If you have received a negative test result, you may be too unwell to attend work, due to another illness. In this situation, the SSP enhanced payment will stop. Your income for the remainder of your absence will reduce to what it normally is when you take sick leave.

If you have COVID-19, you may not be well enough to return to work after the self-isolation period has expired. The SSP Enhancement scheme will stop and your income will reduce to what it normally is when you take sick leave.

There is no limit on the number of times eligible employees can benefit from this scheme.

Employees should contact their manager in their usual way when they cannot come to work. You will need to provide any reasonable evidence requested by your manager, as you normally would.

What sick pay you get

You are eligible if you receive only SSP when off sick or if you are not eligible for SSP.

If your employer pays full pay for sickness absence:

  • you are not eligible for this scheme if you will receive full pay when taking time off for COVID-19 related absences
     
  • you will be eligible for this scheme if the period for which full pay is provided is limited and you have exceeded this
     
  • you will be eligible for the first few days of absence, if your employer does not pay full pay for this period
     
  • you will be eligible if full pay is not provided during a probationary period

You are not eligible for statutory sick pay enhancement payments if you:

  • have childcare or carer responsibilities, even if schools or day services have closed due to COVID-19
  • need to quarantine following foreign travel
  • cannot work due to being assessed as high risk using the All Wales COVID -19 workforce risk assessment tool
  • have been advised by a GP or hospital doctor to self-isolate as a precaution before or after a medical procedure

Eligible staff roles

Role Information on eligibility
Domiciliary care workers

This includes care workers providing care for people in private homes and supported living arrangements.

Care workers and nurses employed in care homes 

Care workers employed to care for people living in registered care homes are eligible. This includes:

  • care homes for older adults, younger adults and children
  • residential special schools and colleges registered as care homes with Care Inspectorate Wales

Ancillary staff in care homes

Cooks, domestic staff, administrators, activity coordinators, maintenance and other ancillary staff are eligible where they are required to work in regular close contact with residents.
Managers and supervisory staff in care homes and domiciliary services

Senior staff are eligible for payment when their work brings them into close proximity with people receiving care and they are not able to maintain social distancing.  

Staff working for contractors in care homes Staff must be providing daily essential services such as routine catering or cleaning services and have substantial contact with residents.
Personal Assistants (PAs) PAs provide personal care and support for individuals in their own homes. PAs are eligible only where they are paid via direct payments and not by other arrangements.
Agency care workers Agency staff booked to work shifts in a registered care home or domiciliary care service. The worker must have a confirmed booking to provide shifts prior to noticing symptoms or being required to self-isolate.
Bank/ pool/casual workers Workers booked to provide shift cover in a registered care home or domiciliary care service. The worker must have a confirmed booking to provide shifts prior to noticing symptoms or being required to self-isolate
Allied health professionals

AHPs employed by, and working within, a registered care home or domiciliary care service are eligible if they are providing direct care and support for people and social distancing is not possible

Non-eligible staff roles

Role Criteria
Staff working in healthcare settings, including private hospitals and hospices This scheme is specifically to support social care staff and does not cover those working in healthcare settings.
Regional managers/ Responsible Individuals  Regional managers and RIs are not usually based within care services and do not provide personal care. They are not eligible for this scheme, unless they can demonstrate eligibility due to their specific working arrangements.
Foster carers Foster carers receive an allowance and are generally not paid employees. They are not eligible for this scheme. 
Shared lives carers Shared lives carers receive an allowance and are generally not paid employees. They are not eligible for this scheme. 
Workers in residential family centres  Workers are not providing significant levels of personal care and are not eligible for the scheme.
Other staff in care homes for children  Teaching staff, therapeutic staff and office based staff in care homes for children and residential special schools or colleges are not eligible for the scheme. Such staff are likely to be able to maintain social distancing and their roles do not include direct care.
 
Support workers in supported housing projects, floating support, hostels etc. 

If workers are employed by a registered domiciliary care agency to provide care and support, they are eligible for the scheme. 

Support workers in supported living not employed by a domiciliary care agency are not currently eligible for this scheme

Early intervention and community based services    Social care workers employed in community based services are not eligible for the scheme, unless they have been redeployed into an eligible staff role. 
Volunteers and unpaid carers Volunteers and unpaid carers are not included in this scheme, which is aimed at paid employees.
Childcare and play services  Care workers employed by these services do not provide personal care in people’s homes and are not eligible for this scheme.

Cross border issues

If you work for a care home in Wales, you are eligible for the scheme (wherever you live).

If you work in a care home outside of Wales, you are not eligible for the scheme (wherever you live).

If you work for a domiciliary care agency registered in Wales and are providing care for people in Wales, you are eligible for the scheme.

If you work for a domiciliary care agency not registered in Wales, you are not eligible for the scheme.

Personal Assistants must be providing care and support for a person who is receiving direct payments from a Welsh local authority.

How the scheme works

Where an employer is eligible to participate in the scheme and an employee is eligible to receive the SSP enhancement, the process is as follows:

Declaration

The employee must submit a declaration form. This gives their permission for personal data to be shared with the local authority to administer the scheme. It also allows appropriate checks to be made to prevent duplicate claims.

The employee should complete this form as soon as possible, so they are in place for any relevant absence. Declarations forms will provided by the local authority.

Staff absence

Employee informs employer they cannot report for work as they:

  • have symptoms of COVID-19
  • have to self-isolate as someone in their household is has symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19
  • tested positive for COVID-19
  • have to self-isolate because they have been contacted by the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect service

Employee confirms they wish to access the SSP enhancement scheme (form already submitted):

  • employer pays employee their full salary as per the usual payroll arrangements (weekly or monthly). Where hours are irregular, pay should be the average of the last eight weeks
  • employer informs the local authority and provides details of employee’s NI number, pay, absence dates and category of absence

This process applies to:

  • care providers
  • agencies
  • contractors

The local authority will make reimbursements through monthly payments, or more frequently if required. Direct payments will continue to be made to allow employers to make appropriate payments to Personal Assistants.

What employers and care agencies need to do

Employers and care agencies are responsible for:

  • advising staff of the availability of the scheme
  • issuing declaration forms
  • retaining declaration forms for audit/checking purposes for a minimum of 24 months after date of the payment
  • continuing to pay employee or agency staff at full pay (no backdated payment should be made)
  • submitting claims to the local authority

HMRC has confirmed the enhanced payment made to employees under the SSP Enhancement scheme is regarded as earnings. It is subject to tax, national insurance and pension contributions and  student loan repayments. The payment  will also be considered in benefit calculations.

As these payments will take an employee’s pay up to the level of full pay, deductions should be the same as those usually taken from wages.

Care workers who do not receive SSP, but are otherwise eligible for this scheme, will receive 100% of their usual salary. 

Calculating the value of the enhancement

The value of the enhancement payment is the difference between the value of SSP and the employee’s usual full pay.

If the employee works irregular hours, the average pay is taken from earnings over the past eight weeks. This would not include bonuses or back pay.  

If the employee regularly works over their contracted hours, this can be included in the average calculation.

Data management

Each organisation is responsible for ensuring the data they collect and retain complies with GDPR regulations. Welsh Government will only keep summarised data where no individual can be identified.

Staff are asked on their declaration form to consent to personal information being shared with the local authority. This is for the purposes of making this payment only

Self-isolation support scheme

You may also be eligible for the Self-isolation support scheme if you are in receipt of welfare benefits.

This scheme provides a £500 payment to people who are:

  • required to self-isolate because they have tested positive for COVID-19 or
  • required to self-isolate because they have been identified as a close contact by the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect service

You can apply for this scheme if you are eligible. However, you must not try to claim from both schemes for the same absence. This is likely to be regarded as fraud.

However you can claim from separate schemes for separate absences. For example you can get the SSP enhancement payment when you are self isolating with suspected COVID-19. If you then get a positive test result you can apply for the self-isolation support scheme.

You must inform your employer immediately if you wish to apply for the Self-isolation support scheme. Your employer will stop the enhanced payment from the SSP Enhancement scheme.

There must be no overlap. This would be a duplicate payment. It is your responsibility to make sure you only apply to one scheme at a time. You must notify your employer if you plan to change from one scheme to the other.

The same process must be followed for agency staff.

Check which scheme you are eligible for.