COVID-19 and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

The online service to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be available from 26 May 2020.

What is the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme?

It is the mechanism for employers to reclaim SSP paid to current or former employees (but where there is a connection to the absence from work and COVID-19).

The repayment covers up to two weeks starting from the first qualifying day of sickness, if an employee was/is unable to work because they either:

  • Have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
  • Cannot work because they are self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms
  • Are shielding and have a letter from the NHS or a GP telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks

Claim periods

Employers will need to look back over their payroll records to look for periods of sickness starting on or after:

  • 13 March 2020 – if your employee had coronavirus or the symptoms or is self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms
  • 16 April 2020 – if your employee was shielding because of coronavirus

What can employers reclaim?

Employers can reclaim the SSP weekly rate, which is £95.85 (£94.25 before 6 April 2020).

If you pay more than the weekly rate of SSP you can only claim up to the weekly rate paid.

Who can use the scheme?

You can use the scheme as an employer if:

  • You’re claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus
  • You have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020
  • You had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020

Your claim amount should not take you above the state aid limits under the EU Commission temporary framework.

Do employees need to provide a sick note?

Employees do not have to give you a sick note for you to make a claim. You can ask them to provide you with either:

  • An isolation note from NHS 111 – if they are self-isolating and cannot work because of coronavirus
  • The NHS or GP letter telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks because they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus

Record Keeping

You must keep records of SSP that you’ve paid and want to claim back from HMRC and these must be kept for 3 years after the date you receive payment.

The records are as follows:

  • The dates the employee/s were off sick
  • Which of those dates were qualifying days
  • The reason they said they were off work for example they had symptoms
  • The employee’s National Insurance number

You can choose how you keep records of your employees’ sickness absence, but HMRC may need to see these records if there’s a dispute over payment of SSP.

CJRS vs SSP

You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time for that employee.

Therefore, you will need to work out whether it is more beneficial for an employee to remain on furlough or be paid SSP. Typically it will be more beneficial to reclaim under CJRS as employees will receive 80% of their wages rather than the weekly SSP rate.

One practical point is that many employers will not have furloughed staff until the lockdown occurred on 23 March but will have had staff who were isolating prior to that date with symptoms of COVID-19. Therefore, it is likely that there will be businesses for who COVID-19 SSP rebate claims are relevant for staff with COVID-19 symptoms in the period from 13 March to the point that furlough commenced. 

Get ready to claim

The online service to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be available from 26 May 2020.

To use the online service you will need the Government Gateway user ID you got when you registered for PAYE Online. If you did not register online you will need to enrol for the PAYE Online service.

If you use an agent who is authorised to do PAYE online for you, they will be able to claim on your behalf.

Contact us

For further information, please contact us at advice@taitwalker.co.uk.