COVID-19: Legislation regarding Statutory Sick Pay and updates to Working Time Regulations 1998

31 March 2020


  • The Statutory Sick Pay (Coronavirus) (Suspension of Waiting Days and General Amendment) Regulations 2020 came into force on 28 March 2020.
  • Where the reason for the absence is coronavirus sickness or self-isolation employees no longer need to serve three waiting days before they become eligible for statutory sick pay meaning that it is now payable from day one, rather than day four.
  • This legislation has been backdated and any relevant periods of incapacity which started on or after 13 March 2020 will no longer serve waiting days.
  • The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 were implemented on 26 March 2020 to allow for more flexibility when dealing with annual leave remaining in this leave year where workers struggle to take their remaining entitlement before the end of the leave year. This may be because:
    • they’re self-isolating or are too sick to take holiday before the end of their leave year
    • they’ve been temporarily sent home as there’s no work (‘laid off’ or ‘put on furlough’)
    • they’ve had to continue working and could not take paid holiday
  • The Regulations now give workers a statutory right to carry leave over into the next two leave years after this one.  This change is relevant to the first 4 weeks of leave under the Regulations which originate in EU law. This component of annual leave would originally have been lost if it was not taken in the leave year in which it accrued.  This means that all statutory minimum annual leave accrued in this leave year is now capable of being carried over, in the following way:
    • 4 weeks (legal entitlement to be carried over to next two leave years)
    • 1.6 weeks (employers have discretion to agree that this be carried over to the next leave year)
    • Enhanced contractual entitlement (at employers’ discretion)

Aspire Comment

The rules on pay in lieu of untaken annual leave have also been amended so that, when employment terminates, the holiday pay payable will include anything carried over and not taken due to the coronavirus carry over.  However, employers should note that the law still does not allow pay in lieu of statutory minimum entitlement at any time other than termination.

This amendment applies to all workers and not just key workers as has been implied in some commentaries.

If you require any further advice or guidance about how to manage your holiday processes or any other employment guidance, such as furloughing employees, lay off or short time working or redundancy, do get in touch with one of our team on 0121 445 6178 or send us an email at