Coronavirus: Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
Updated: 19/05/2020: The government has now launched a Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Rebate Scheme portal which will allow employers to apply to recover costs for SSP directly from HMRC.
In the early stages of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic the government announced that it would help support smaller to medium sized employers whose total employee headcount was less than 250 in managing the cost of Statutory Sick Pay payments expected as a direct consequence of Coronavirus by launching a rebate scheme to cover some of those costs.
The government has now launched a Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme portal which will allow employers to apply to recover costs for SSP directly from HMRC, much in the same way as claiming furlough payments through the HMRC portal.
When will the online Coronavirus SSP portal service be available?
The online HMRC Coronavirus SSP Rebate portal will be launched on the 26 May 2020. It will be available to small and medium sized employers with less than 250 employees.
How does the employer qualify to be able to reclaim SSP?
In order to be eligible to make a claim through the CSSP portal, the employer must:
- have a PAYE payroll scheme and this must have been created and started before the 28 February 2020, and
- there must have been less than 250 employees before the 28 February 2020
- if there is a connected group of companies, the total combined number of employees must be less than 250 on or before the 28 February 2020 to be eligible to make a claim for SSP rebate through the portal
What happens if an employer paid SSP to an employee who is no longer employed?
An employer can still make a claim for SSP monies paid to an eligible employee where SSP was paid on or after 13 March 2020, even if the employee has left the employment of the Company.
How much will I be able to reclaim?
Eligible employers will be able to claim a proportion of their SSP costs where employees have been impacted by coronavirus related absence.
The repayment from the HMRC will cover up to 2 weeks of SSP starting from the first qualifying day of sickness, where an employee is or was unable to work because they either:
- were ill themselves with COVID-19 symptoms, or
- were self isolating because someone they live with has symptoms and they are unable to work from home, or
- were shielding because they had been advised to do so by the NHS or GP for 12 weeks because they were at a high risk of severe illness from Coronavirus
The current rate of SSP as at 5 April 2020 is £95.85 per week. Prior to the 6 April, the rate of SSP was £94.25 per week.
Some employers may have contractual arrangements to pay more than the statutory rate of sick pay for some or all of the employee’s absence due to illness. In these circumstances the employer may make a claim only for the relevant statutory amount from the CSSP portal.
Can the employer backdate a claim for SSP?
An eligible employer can make a claim for a rebate of up to 2 weeks SSP for COVID-19 related absence of any eligible employee, where absence started as follows:
- You can backdate a claim to the 13 March 2020 if your employee had COVID-19 symptoms or is self isolating because they live with someone who had symptoms and you paid them SSP
- If you have a shielding employee, you can make a claim of up to 2 weeks SSP starting from the 16 April 2020
The employer must have paid this SSP payment to the employee.
For which employees can I claim?
The CSSP scheme covers all types of employment contracts including those employees on full time and part time contracts, fixed term and temporary contracts up to the end of the contract, agency contracts and employees on flexible or zero-hours contracts.
Standard SSP eligibility criteria must be met before SSP is payable to the employee and therefore reclaimable via the CSSP portal. SSP eligibility criteria can be found here.
What happens if I have an employee shielding?
Where you have an employee who is shielding and who has not been furloughed, the rebate scheme will compensate up to 2 weeks of SSP from the 16 April 2020.
What happens if I had a shielding or self-isolating employee who was furloughed?
If you have made the decision to furlough an employee who was shielding, and have not paid them SSP, you will not be able to claim an SSP rebate.
Likewise if you furloughed an employee who was self-isolating, and did not pay them SSP, you will not be able to claim an SSP rebate.
You can make a claim through the CJRS [Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme] and an SSP claim through the Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme for the same employee, but these should not be for the same period of time. This means that if an employee was paid SSP initially, and then went on furlough leave, you may be able to claim bot, subject to the applicable dates outlined in “Can the employer backdate a claim for SSP” above.
What if the employee didn’t provide me with a GP Fit Note?
In the circumstances, it is entirely possible that an employee suffering with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms did not go to the GP and would not have received the usual GP Fit Note [medical certificate].
Employees may have provided you with an Isolation Note.
Don’t worry if you do not have either of these documents from your employee prior to paying them SSP, as for the purpose of making an SSP claim through the portal, these are not required, although you may wish to request an Isolation Note or provide you with a copy of the NHS or GP shielding letter in these circumstances from your employee for your own records.
Is there a maximum aid limit that an employer can receive?
Any claim under this and other schemes should not exceed the state aid limits under the EU Commission Temporary Framework. The maximum level of state aid that a business can receive is €800,000, with a lower maximum of €100,000 for agriculture and €120,000 for fisheries. See here for further guidance on EU Commission Temporary Framework
What do I need to get ready to claim?
The online Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme will be available to use from the 26 May 2020. To use the service you will need:
- your government gateway ID you received when registering for PAYE online. If you did not register on line you will need to do this now. Information is provided here
- your PAYE reference number
- contact name and phone number of someone the HMRC can contact if they have queries
- UK bank or building society details where BACS payments can be accepted
- the total amount of coronavirus SSP you have paid to your employees for the claim period. This should not exceed the weekly rate that is set
- the number of employees you are claiming for
- the start date and end date of the claim period
You can claim for multiple pay periods and multiple employees at the same time. The start date of your claim is the start date of the earliest pay period that you are claiming. The end date is the date of the end of the most recent pay period that you are claiming for.
Where applicable your Payroll Agent can make this claim on your behalf. For our Duncan & Toplis payroll clients we will contact you separately to confirm this process.
What records must I retain?
You must keep records of SSP paid to your employees and what you want to claim back from HMRC.
You must retain the following records for 3 years after the date that you receive payment from the HMRC for your claim:
- the dates that the employee was off sick
- which of those dates were qualifying days [which days the employee normally works]
- the reason they were off work, if they had symptoms, if someone they lived with had symptoms, or if your employee was shielding
- the employee’s National Insurance number
You will be required to present these records to HMRC if there is a dispute over payment of SSP.
Can I use an agent to make the SSP claim on my behalf?
Yes, if you use an agent to submit your PAYE for you, they will be able to submit your SSP claim. For our Duncan & Toplis payroll clients we will contact you separately to confirm this process.
What happens if I am unable to submit my claim for SSP rebate on line?
The government will provide other means of making an SSP rebate claim but we do not yet have this information. However, using the SSP rebate portal is likely to be the most effective way of submitting your claim.
When will I receive my rebate?
The HMRC have not yet confirmed the timescale of when payment will be made from receipt of your claim. We will update you as soon as we are aware of this detail.
Please note, the information herein is correct as of Wednesday 20 May 2020 but may be subject to change and some elements of business support are devolved and therefore support may differ in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
For the latest guidance and professional advice, please contact us or speak to your dedicated Duncan & Toplis adviser.