What is the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Scheme?
This Scheme was introduced last year to support employers with SSP payments to employees who are off work because of coronavirus. As a business, you must have less than 250 employees across all your payroll schemes to be eligible to make a claim.
How long will it take to get the rebate?
You can only claim after you have paid your employee their sick pay. Once you claim, it can take up to six working days for the money to come into your account.
What evidence of sickness do we need from the employee?
Employees do not have to give you a doctor’s fit note for you to make a claim but you can ask them for an isolation note from NHS 111 (if they are self-isolating and cannot work because of coronavirus), or a ‘shielding note’ or letter from their doctor that says they are at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
Which employees will be eligible?
An employee will be eligible if they were off work for the following reasons:
a) they self-isolated due to someone having symptoms of coronavirus within their household/have been notified to self-isolate by the NHS test and trace service;
b) they’ve been advised by letter to shield because they are at very high risk of severe illness if they contract coronavirus; or,
c) they’ve been told to self-isolate before an operation.
Employees must also have been on sick leave for at least four consecutive days to be entitled to SSP although SSP is payable from the first day of absence. Remember that double vaccinated people are no longer legally required to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact with a positive COVID-19 case.
What is the maximum that we can claim?
The repayment under the scheme can cover a maximum of two weeks’ SSP starting from the first qualifying day of sickness. You may make more than one claim for the same employee but the maximum period is a total of two weeks. You can also claim back from both the furlough scheme and the SSP Rebate Scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time. When an employee is on furlough, you can only reclaim expenditure through the furlough scheme, and not the SSP Rebate Scheme. If a non-furloughed employee is off work because of coronavirus, then you might be able to claim from the SSP Rebate Scheme depending on eligibility. The furlough scheme will come to an end on 30 September.
Do we need to keep any records?
Yes, you will need to keep the following records for three years from the date you receive the rebate:
a) the dates the employee was off sick and which of those dates were qualifying days (a “qualifying day” is a day the employee usually works on);
b) the reason they said they were off work, i.e. if they had symptoms; someone they lived with had symptoms; or, they were shielding;
c) the employee’s National Insurance number;
d) the state aid declaration (from your claim summary) - this must be retained until 31 December 2024.
Where employers knowingly and deliberately provide false or misleading information to benefit from the claim, HMRC will apply penalties of up to £3000.
Is there a timeframe for making claims and can we backdate claims?
There is no timeframe within which a claim must be made but the SSP Rebate Scheme will close at some stage (see further below). It is therefore advisable to submit claims without unnecessary delay. Claims can be backdated as follows:
a) to 13 March 2020: if your employee had COVID-19 symptoms or was self-isolating because they live with someone who had symptoms and you paid them SSP
b) to 16 April 2020: if you have a shielding employee
c) to 28 May 2020: if your employee has been notified by the NHS or another public body to self-isolate
d) to 26 August 2020: if your employee has been notified by the NHS to self-isolate before an operation.
What happens if we paid SSP to an employee who is no longer employed by us?
You can still claim SSP paid to an eligible employee where SSP was paid on or after 13 March 2020, even if they have since left your employment.
How long will the scheme be open?
The Chancellor confirmed in the Spring Budget that the SSP Rebate Scheme will continue to support employers while sickness levels are high but that the government will set out steps for closing the Scheme in due course. If vaccine take-up continues to be high and sickness absence reduces, the government may decide to end or perhaps pause, the Scheme.
We are ready to advise and support your business through these challenging times. Please get in touch with your usual 3CS contact to find out more about how we can help.