Government will REFUND coronavirus-related sick pay for ALL small and medium-sized firms for up to 14 days as Chancellor reveals a £2bn fighting fund to keep companies afloat
- Rishi Sunak announced government will cover cost of sick pay for small firms
- Firms with fewer than 250 staff able to claim back coronavirus-related sick pay
- Fighting fund will be worth up to £2bn and open to estimated two million firms
Rishi Sunak handed small and medium-sized businesses a coronavirus lifeline today as he said the government will cover the cost of sick pay linked to the deadly outbreak.
The Chancellor used his Budget to announce a fighting fund worth more than £2 billion which firms with fewer than 250 employees will be able to access.
Companies will be able to claim refunds for sick pay paid to any staff who are off work because of coronavirus for a period of up to 14 days.
Meanwhile, Mr Sunak also announced that statutory sick pay will be extended so that it applies from day one of an illness rather than from day four.
Statutory sick pay will also be made available to ‘all those who are advised to self-isolate’ because of coronavirus even if they have not displayed symptoms.
The announcements represent a major intervention by the government as it tries to stop disruption caused by coronavirus from sinking British businesses.
Rishi Sunak today announced that small and medium-sized companies will able to obtain refunds from teh government for coronavirus-related sick pay
Delivering his first Budget, Mr Sunak said: ‘The best way to support people is to protect their jobs and we do that by supporting our businesses.
‘The measures I have announced today on statutory sick pay are crucial to support those who need to take time off work but that cost would be borne by business.
‘And if expect 20 per cent of the work force to be unable top work at any one time the cumulative cost would hit our small and medium sized business hard.
‘So in recognition of these exceptional circumstances today I am taking a significant step.
‘For businesses with fewer than 250 employees I have decided that the cost of providing statutory sick pay to any employee off work due to coronavirus will for up to 14 days be refunded by the government in full.
‘That could provide over £2 billion for up to two million businesses.
‘This will significantly ease the burden on businesses.’
Mr Sunak also announced that the sick pay system will be simplified so that workers will no longer have to get a note from a doctor in order to be eligible.
He said that the notes will be available by simply ringing the NHS 111 number.
For the self-employed, it will be made easier for them to access the benefits system should they fall on hard times while a £500 million hardship fund will be set up.
That cash will be used by local councils to help vulnerable people.
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