The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced in the budget that Statutory Sick Pay is to be paid from the first day of sickness absence, rather than the fourth day, for people who have COVID-19 or have to self-isolate, in line with official guidance.
The system for reclaiming Coronavirus SSP has now gone live!
The eligibility criteria for SSP recovery is as follows:
- this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
- all employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
- employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
Although employees will not need to get a fit note from their GP, you can ask for your employees to give you either:
- an isolation note from NHS 111 – if they are self-isolating and cannot work because of COVID-19
- 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 COVID-19.
You should also try to use your internal self-certificate form and ensure you maintain clear records of any absences and the causes for those absences. It is also recommended that you carry out a return to work meeting for all absences regardless of cause or duration.
What if I have employees on zero hour contracts?
For employees that are on zero hour contracts, the rules for SSP are the same as for all other employees.
If the employee’s average weekly earnings, which are calculated on an average of the last 8 weeks gross pay, is above the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, £512 per month (from the 6 April this will be £120 per week, £520 per month), they will be entitled to receive SSP from the first day of sickness, if COVID-19 related, provided they have worked for you for three months.
If the employee’s average weekly earnings is below this threshold or they have not had the sufficient hours, they may be able to apply for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
What can I claim?
You can claim for periods of sickness starting on or after:
- 13 March 2020 – if your employee had coronavirus or the symptoms or is self-isolating because they live with someone with symptoms.
- 16 April 2020 – if your employee was shielding because of coronavirus.
The weekly rate for SSP was £94.25 before 6 April 2020 and is now £95.85. If you’re an employer who pays more than the weekly rate of SSP, you can only claim up to the weekly rate paid.
HMRC have produced a calculator to assist with working out the actual amount of SSP, this can be accessed here.
How do I claim?
You can claim back coronavirus-related SSP using the online service here. You will need to be registered for PAYE Online and have a Government Gateway.
Where we prepare your payroll, we are able to claim on your behalf. With this in mind, please ensure that you inform us of any employees that have contracted COVID-19 or have been told to self-isolate, and the dates they were off work, so we can help you recover the cost of SSP from the government.
Please forward the information to our payroll team here.
After your claim has been checked, the funds will be paid into your bank account within 6 working days. HMRC will carry out checks and where any claims are found to be fraudulent penalties will be applied.
I have an employee on furlough, can I also claim SSP?
You can claim for 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.
Do I need to keep any records of the claim?
Yes! You must keep records of SSP that you’ve paid and want to claim back from HMRC.
You must keep the following records for 3 years after the date you receive the payment for your claim:
- The dates the employee was off sick.
- Which of those dates were qualifying days.
- The reason they said they were off work – if they had symptoms, someone they lived with had symptoms or they were shielding.
- 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’s a dispute over payment of SSP.
You’ll need to print or save your state aid declaration (from your claim summary) and keep this until 31 December 2024.
We are here to support your business, if you have any concerns please call us or email Mark or Andrew.
The content in this blog is correct as at 26/05/2020. See terms and conditions.