Small firms call for sick pay rebate

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has voiced its concerns for the small business community following the publication of the UK Health Security Agency’s ‘Living Safely with COVID’ guidance and the withdrawal of free lateral flow tests in England and Wales.

Responding to the new guidance, FSB National Chair Martin McTague said that the change from an instruction to ‘stay home’ for employees testing positive, to one that encourages them to ‘try to stay at home’ and ‘talk to your employer about options’ if you do want to come in, will put stress on employers and throw up challenging scenarios.

The FSB National Chair noted that the cost of workplace absence for the average small employer was over £3,500 last year, leaving the small business sector with a collective bill of £5bn; these extra outgoings come together with the withdrawal of the workplace testing initiative and small business sick pay rebate, along with other COVID support measures.

Mr McTague reiterated the recent FSB proposals, put forward in conjunction with the TUC, for a comprehensive small business sick pay rebate that removes the lower earnings threshold of £120 per week. He also urged the government to reconsider the future of workplace testing for employees who cannot work from home.