Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rebate 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
The new coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
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
Normal Statutory Sick Pay
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).