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Support for care workers who are required to self-isolate or stay off work to protect the people they care for.

First published:
30 October 2020
Last updated:

This scheme provides financial support for social care workers who need to self-isolate or stay off work in line with current guidance on. 

The Statutory sick pay enhancement scheme supports social care workers who

  • only get Statutory Sick Pay ( for absences outlined in this guidance or
  • who receive no income at all.

It provides funding for employers to pay workers at full pay for eligible absences. These absences need to be in line with current Welsh Government guidance to reduce the risk of transmission. Social care workers who receive occupational sick pay are not eligible for this scheme.

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

The scheme runs until 31 August 2022.


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
  • support workers in emergency/temporary accommodation
  • support workers in supported housing and homelessness outreach workers 
  • support workers from supported housing schemes providing floating support in people’s homes 
  • an agency social care worker or agency nurse (with work booked in with a registered care home, domiciliary care service eligible, housing support service included in scheme)
  • 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
  • ancillary staff in large ‘hostel’ type supported accommodation, with large communal areas and catering arrangements

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

Absences covered by this scheme

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

  1. You have tested positive for COVID-19
  2. You have been identified as a contact of a COVID positive case and are required to self-isolate or stay away from work, subject to the current guidance

The payment is payable from the first day of absence and continues for the advised period of self-isolation in current guidance. Where guidance allows employees to return to work dependant on negative LFD tests, financial support provided by the scheme will stop at this time. The scheme supports the employee to stay off work for the minimum period allowed by the current guidance.

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.

What payment you get

You are eligible for payment for the absences outlined in this guidance if you would otherwise receive only SSP or no income at all.

You are not eligible for this scheme if you will receive full pay when taking time off for the COVID-19 related absences outlined in this guidance.

You will be eligible for this scheme if the period for which full pay is provided is limited and is less than outlined in this guidance.

Absences not covered by this scheme

You are not eligible if you are taking time off work for one of the following reasons:

  • You need to self-isolate or stay off work as a result of foreign travel (including testing positive for COVID-19).  
  • You have tested positive for COVID-19 and are not well enough to return to work when the self-isolation period expires. The SSP Enhancement scheme will stop and your income will reduce to what it normally is when you take sick leave.
  • You have childcare or carer responsibilities, even where this relates to COVID-19.
  • You cannot work due to being assessed as high risk using the All Wales COVID -19 workforce risk assessment tool or advised by a GP or hospital doctor to self-isolate 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 and ‘hostel’ type supported accommodation

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.
Support workers in supported housing schemes, floating support, emergency accommodation and homelessness outreach workers Support workers in these housing support schemes are covered by this scheme.
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.
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:


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

Social care worker informs employer or agency they cannot report for work due to one of the reasons outlined in Reasons for absence above.

Social care worker confirms they wish to access the SSP enhancement scheme (form already submitted):

  • Employer pays social care worker their full salary as per the usual payroll arrangements (weekly or monthly). Where hours are irregular, pay should be an average taking into account the  last eight weeks
  • Agency pays worker for the shifts booked prior to the need for absence known
  • Employer/agency informs the local authority and provides details of social care worker's NI number, pay, absence dates and category of absence

This process applies to:

  • social 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.

Agency workers are paid for the shifts they were booked in to deliver.

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