On the 7th April 2020 the government announced that it is supporting employers paying sick pay to employees, where the employees have been forced to take sick pay because of Coronavirus. Until now, how that claim could be made has not been announced.
Today HMRC have notified to say that from 26th May the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will launch online.
To make a claim, we have broken down the key information that both employers and employees need to know.
The coronavirus statutory sick pay rebate scheme (SSPRS) will repay statutory sick pay (SSP) to employers who have had to pay employees for periods of sickness starting on or after 13th March 2020. The maximum recoverable will be the SSP amounts prescribed by the government (ie, the rates of £94.25 pw for 2019/20 and £95.85pw for 2020/21).
The SSPRS can be utilised by employers if they:
- Are claiming for an employee who is eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus.
- Had a PAYE payroll scheme that contained fewer than 250 employees on 28th February 2020.
- Full-time employees.
- Part-time employees.
- Employees on agency contracts.
- Employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts.
Entitlement to SSP is based on average earnings in the eight weeks prior to the absence reaching the lower earnings limit for the year in question. This means that, for zero-hour contract employees, it does not matter whether the employee was assigned any work in which they are now sick or not.
It is crucial for employers to keep records of a claim for at least three years after filing for the claim.
These records must include:
- The reason why each employee could not work.
- Details of each period when each employee could not work, including start and end dates.
- Details of the SSP qualifying days when each employee could not work.
- NI numbers of all employees to whom SSP has been paid.
Coronavirus Specific Claims
For COVID-19 cases, there are two categories of employees and they have different rights to SSP:
- Employees who have been absent from work due to coronavirus or self-isolation before 13th March 2020. Waiting days still apply and employers should pay SSP from the fourth qualifying day.
- Employees who on or after 13th March 2020 are absent from work due to COVID-19, again, whether this be sickness or self-isolation.
Self-isolating includes those caring for people self-isolating in the same household and therefore have been advised to do so. It also includes sick individuals who are ‘shielding’, which is a measure to protect people are clinically extremely vulnerable.
Employees who are on sick leave or self-isolating because of COVID-19 should speak to their employer about whether they are eligible for SSP.
Evidence of Sickness
Employees who have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate can obtain an ‘isolation note’ by visiting NHS 111 online and completing an online form rather than visiting a doctor.
For COVID-19 cases, this replaces the usual need to provide a fit note after seven days of sickness absence. Isolation notes will also be accepted by Jobcentre Plus as evidence of inability to attend for benefit interview purposes.