Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rebate scheme resurrected from 21 December 2021.
Updated: Dec 31, 2021
Update - SSP rebate scheme restarting Sept 2021 (December 2021)
The Treasury has reintroducing the Covid related SSP rebate scheme. Small businesses will once again be able to reclaim a maximum of two weeks of SSP per employee for employees who take time off because of Covid.
The new SSP rebate scheme will apply from the day of the announcement, on 21 December 2021, where an employee has taken time off work related to Covid.
Employer must meet four conditions to be eligible. They must:
have fewer than 250 employees on 30 November 2021.
have a PAYE scheme set up on 30 November 2021.
have already paid the Covid-related SSP to employees before they can make a reclaim for the SSP.
Some employees’ contracts provide for full pay for a limited time when off work because of illness. Whilst the rate of SSP is £96.35 pw for 2021/22, employers can pay a higher level than this, the maximum reclaim per employee is set at £96.35 x 2 weeks. If employees are still off work due to a Covid related absence after their contractual sickness pay has come to an end then they can be paid under the new resurrected scheme and the employer can then claim up to two weeks of SSP.
Employers can still claim under the resurrected scheme even if they claimed for the same employee under the ‘old’ rebate scheme that ended on 30 September 2021
Employees should self-isolate for four days to be eligible for Covid-related SSP, but are paid for every day they are self-isolating. The three-day waiting requirement for Covid-related SSP has not been reinstated.
The 28-week maximum SSP rule has not changed. SSP cannot exceed 28 weeks in any period of incapacity for work or series of linked periods of incapacity
Employers will be eligible to make a claim from 21 December once the new online reclaims portal become available in mid-January 2022. Claim can be made retrospectively from 21 December. This is a temporary scheme, though no date has been given as to when the new scheme will close.
No rebates of SSP can be claimed for periods of absence between 1 October 2021 and 20 December 2021. The current Covid-related SSP rebate paid to employees up to 30 September 2021 can still be reclaimed by qualifying employers until 31 December 2021.
The self-employed are not eligible, but casual or agency workers are entitled to it.
Other measures were also announced to support businesses in the hospitality, leisure and cultural sectors like, pubs, restaurants, theatres and museums. They will be able to apply for cash grants of up to £6,000 per premises.
Many hospitality and leisure business have been severely affected through lost bookings due to people's fears over the spread of the Omicron variant.
Separately, workers affected by children or other dependants hit by Covid are generally entitled to time off in an emergency. However, they might not get paid, as it depends on the terms of their work contract.
Businesses other than hospitality and leisure can apply for some of the funding.
Update - SSP rebate scheme ending September 2021 (announced Sept 21)
The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will close on 30 September 2021.
From March 2020, if employers were eligible, and employees had a Covid-19 SSP ‘period of incapacity for work’, Covid-19 SSP could be paid to employees. This was paid at the same rate as ‘normal SSP’ and for the first 14 days of absence from work, but with no requirement to wait for the usual 3 days before SSP was due to employees. Furthermore, employers could reclaim the full Covid-19 related SSP back from the Government. Normal SSP could not, and still cannot, be reclaimed.
Employers had to differentiate between an absence that was Covid-19 related, including ‘shielding’, and an absence that was not. Before that, there was no 3 day waiting for SSP if it was Covid-19 related. So an employee with a broken bone would not be eligible for ‘normal’ SSP until day 4 of their absence. Employers therefore had to police the individual’s eligibility to SSP. This created difficulties for employers where their employees had a cough and cold. Was it Covid-19 related or just the common cold.
Covid-19 SSP could only be reclaimed by employers with fewer than 250 employees.
From 1 October 2021, eligible employers cannot, once again, make SSP reclaims and in particular reclaim any Covid-19 related SSP.
However, the concept of Covid-19 related SSP is to be retained after 30 September 2021. Employees will continue to be entitled to SSP from day one of their period of incapacity for work, but only if the absence is for a Covid-19 related reason. Employees with non-Covid-19 related absence will have to once again until the fourth day before SSP accrues to them. However, employers will not be able to reclaim any form of SSP after 30 September 2021.
The 3 day waiting period will still apply after 30 September 2021 for ‘normal SSP’.
Transitional arrangements will be in place until 31 December 2021 which will allow employers the time to either submit any outstanding claims or to amend any already submitted claims.
SSP is currently £96.35 per week.
Original post from mid-2020 (new SSP scheme)
The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme launched online on 26 May 2020.
Employers must normally foot the bill for paying employees SSP. However, if their absence is related to coronavirus and meets the government's eligibility criteria then HMRC will reimburse the cost of up to 14 days of SSP to the employer.
We now have two SSP schemes.
New coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
Normal Statutory Sick Pay
Employees, including directors of limited companies, can claim for up to 2 weeks of coronavirus related SSP if an employee is sick or needs to self-isolate because of coronavirus and if the company employs less than 250 people.
The SSP is repayable if a current or former employee was unable to work on or after 13 March 2020 or after 16 April 2020 if an employee is shielding because of coronavirus.
The rate of SSP rate changed on 6 April 2020 from £94.25 to £95.85 per week. Therefore, claims may be required at different rates if they cross 6 April 2020.
The government will refund £95.85 per week (2020-21 rates) i.e. a maximum £192 to the employer for each eligible employee.
The employer repayment will cover only up to 2 weeks of sick pay / coronavirus-related absence starting from the first day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either:
are self-isolating and unable to work from home
are shielding because they’ve been advised that they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. They should ask for a letter from the NHS or a GP telling them to stay at home for at least twelve weeks.
Coronavirus-related absence covers both those who have coronavirus and those who are deemed incapable of work because of coronavirus. This latter category includes those with symptoms of coronavirus who are staying at home for seven days from the start of their symptoms (day one) and also those living in the same household as someone with coronavirus symptoms staying at home for 14 days beginning with day one.
Employers would still have to pay SSP, for up to 28 weeks, if an employee is still sick and unable to work after the 14-day period. If an employee is not sick and instead is self isolating or shielding then they would not be entitled to either normal SSP or coronavirus related SSP.
If an employer pays more than the current rate of SSP, e.g. full or 50% normal pay for the first period of illness, then the employer cannot claim the excess over the current statutory rate amount.
The scheme can be used by employers if they:
are claiming for an employee who’s eligible for SSP due to coronavirus
had a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020
had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020
The scheme covers all types of employment contracts, including full-time, part-time employees and those who work through agencies and those employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts.
Employers must keep detailed records of all SSP that they want to claim from HMRC, including the following:
the reason why an employee could not work
details of each period when an employee could not work, including start and end dates
details of the SSP qualifying days when an employee could not work
National Insurance numbers of all employees who have received paid SSP
The employer was not ‘in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019.
These records will have to be kept for at least 3 years following the claim.
Employees do not have to provide their employer with a doctor's 'fit note'. Instead employees should now obtain an online 'isolation note', rather than a fit note, as evidence of their incapacity. This can be obtained from the NHS 111 online service. After answering a few questions, an isolation note should be emailed to the employee or can have it sent directly to their employer.
There will also be strict record keeping measures to stop abuse of the system by unscrupulous employers taking advantage of the refund system.
Tax agents will also be able to make claims on behalf of employers. The service will be accessed via a government gateway
If illness is not related to coronavirus (COVID-19) the eligibility for (normal) SSP will only start once an employee has been off work sick for 4 or more days in a row (including non-working days) in order to receive SSP. Employers, of all sizes, are not able to reclaim (normal non-coronavirus related) SSP.
For more details please see the HMRC website and check if you can claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19).