From the 26 May 2020, employers with fewer than 250 employees (as at 28 February 2020) will be able to use the Government’s newly created online tool to reclaim the cost of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid to employees in certain circumstances.
What period does the scheme cover?
The repayment scheme will cover a period of up to 2 weeks starting from the first qualifying day of sickness for an individual.
The ‘first qualifying day of sickness’ is an important point as, from 13 March 2020, it was announced that employees and workers must receive SSP due to them from the first day of their sickness absence, if that sickness is due to:
- having coronavirus
- having coronavirus symptoms, for example a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste
- someone in their household having coronavirus symptoms
- being told to self-isolate by a doctor or the NHS 111 service
Claims under the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme allow employers to make claims for periods of sickness starting on or after:
- 13 March 2020 – if the employee had coronavirus or the symptoms or is self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms
- 16 April 2020 – if the employee was ‘shielding’ in line with Government advice
How much can be claimed?
The statutory sick pay rate was £94.25 per week before 6 April 2020, and is now £95.85 per week.
This set statutory rate is the maximum amount that can be claimed for relevant periods of sickness, even where an employer pays more to their employees by way of contractual sick pay.
What additional criteria must be met in order to make a claim?
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
- fixed term contracts (until the date their contract ends)
An employer can use the scheme if:
- they are claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus
- they have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020
- they had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020
How does this scheme overlap with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
Employers will be able to 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.
A claim will be made through either the job retention scheme (where an employee has been placed on furlough for a period), or the sick pay rebate scheme (where an employee has been unable to attend work due to coronavirus related sickness), depending on the type of leave that employee took at that point in time.
How long will the scheme run for?
As has been the case with many of the newly created initiatives, the Government has not yet announced when the scheme will end.
How do employers deal with the documentation involved?
We would always advise employers to ensure that they have all the relevant data to hand before beginning a claim via the Government portal.
Employers must keep records of SSP that they have paid and want to claim back from HMRC. They must keep the following records for 3 years after the date they receive payment under the scheme:
- the dates the employee was off sick
- which of those dates were qualifying days
- the reason they gave for their absence (for example, their own symptoms, someone they lived with had symptoms or shielding)
- the employee’s National Insurance number
Employers will have a variety of methods of recording employees’ sickness absence. However, it is important to remember that HMRC may need to see these records if there is a dispute over payment of SSP.
As is always the case when dealing with employee sickness, it is important that employees who call in sick be asked to provide details as to why they are unable to attend work, and those details are recorded accurately, whilst maintaining confidentiality.
For further information, please contact our employment solicitors. Get in touch by emailing email@example.com or if your query is urgent, please call 01202 786135.