The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
As the Coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of relinquishing its hold on the UK, employers whose staff may have contracted the virus, or have been affected by it, have been paying Statutory Sick Pay for them.
Aware of the effect this will have been having on straitened company finances, the Government has now announced the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme that should help to relieve the pressure that businesses are finding themselves under.
rradar tax expert Caroline Lamyman explains how the new scheme will work and who is eligible for it.
What can an employer reclaim?
The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, available via an online service from 26th May 2020, will repay the employer the SSP paid to current and former employees and will cover up to 2 weeks of sickness starting from the first qualifying day for coronavirus-related illness.
A coronavirus-related issue includes any employees that are unable to work because they either:
have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms;
cannot work because they are self-isolating due to someone that they live with having symptoms;
are shielding and have a letter from the NHS or a GP telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.
Who can use the scheme?
An employer can use the scheme if:
they are claiming for an employee who is eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus;
they have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28th February 2020;
they had fewer than 250 employees on 28th February 2020.
The employers claim should not take them above the state aid limits under the EU Commission temporary framework.
The scheme covers all types of employment contracts, including full-time employees, part-time employees, employees on agency contracts, employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts and fixed term contracts (until the date their contract ends).
Connected companies and charities can also use the scheme if their total combined number of PAYE employees was fewer than 250 on 28th February 2020.
What periods can be included in the reclaim?
An employer can claim for periods of sickness starting on or after 13th March 2020 if the employee had coronavirus or the symptoms or is self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms.
The government has decided that employees who were shielding because of coronavirus could claim SSP from 16th April 2020 and so the employer can reclaim the payments made to such employees from that date.
The weekly rate was £94.25 before 6th April 2020 and is now £95.85. If the employer pays more than the weekly rate of SSP, they can only claim up to the weekly rate paid.
Employees do not have to give the employee a doctor’s fit note for the employer to make a claim but the business can ask the employee to give either an isolation note which they can obtain from the NHS 111 online service if they are self-isolating and cannot work because of coronavirus, or the NHS or GP letter telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks because they are at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
What does an employer need to make a claim?
The scheme is available from 26th May 2020 and to use the online service, the employer will need their Government Gateway user ID. If the business has not registered online, they will need to enrol for the PAYE Online service.
Agents who are authorised to do PAYE online for the employer will be able to claim on their behalf.
The employer must also have:
their employer PAYE scheme reference number,
contact name and phone number of someone HMRC can contact if they have queries,
a UK bank or building society details,
the total amount of coronavirus SSP the business has paid to their employees for the claim period (this should not exceed the weekly rate that is set),
the number of employees they are claiming for and
the start date and end date of the claim period.
What records must be kept once a claim is submitted?
For at least three years after the claim is submitted, the employer must keep records of the SSP that has been paid and reclaimed from HMRC, including the dates the employee was off sick, which of those dates were qualifying days, the reason the employee was off work - if they had symptoms, someone they lived with had symptoms or they were shielding and the employee’s National Insurance number.
You can choose how you keep records of your employees’ sickness absence. HMRC may need to see these records if there is a dispute over payment of SSP.
Looking for more advice or guidance on this matter, or any other business-related issue?
rradarstation gives you 24/7 access to guidance, videos and on demand webinars answering frequent questions and downloadable templates to use in the day-to-day running of your business, each written and verified by our legal professionals. You will find the answers you are looking for at rradarstation.