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Can I claim back the Statutory Sick Pay I have paid to my employees?

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On 26 May, the Government launched the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (CSSPRS). This scheme was implemented to help employers of small and medium sized businesses cope with the increase in staff claiming Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to coronavirus.  The ability to claim back this payment has now been launched; our Employment Law team here discuss how this can be reclaimed, who is eligible and how to submit a claim. 

How has coronavirus affected eligibility for SSP?

Before understanding how the rebate scheme works it is important to first understand how the eligibility rules for SSP have changed during the pandemic.

Employees were eligible to receive SSP if:

  1. From 13 March, they were self isolating because they or someone they lived with had symptoms;
  2. From 16 April, they were shielding because they had been informed by the NHS or their GP that they were high risk;
  3. From 28 May, they had been informed by the NHS or Public Health that they have been in contact with someone who had coronavirus.

Employees meeting the above criteria must also have been on sick leave for at least four consecutive days to be entitled to SSP.

The second important change is when employees become eligible to receive SSP. Generally, an employee becomes entitled to SSP on the 4th consecutive day of being on sick leave. For example, an employee who was on sick leave Monday through Friday would only be entitled to SSP for the Thursday and Friday. However, if the employee was on sick leave for one of the above coronavirus related reasons, SSP is payable from the first day of the absence. For example, if an employee was on sick leave Monday through Friday because they were self isolating, they would be entitled to SSP for each day rather than just the Thursday and Friday.

Who can apply for the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme?

The CSSPRS is aimed at small and medium sized businesses. The scheme is available to all employers with a PAYE payroll scheme that started before 28 February 2020. You must have also had fewer than 250 employees across all PAYE payroll schemes before 28 February 2020.

What can be claimed through the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme?

The scheme applies to SSP that was paid to employees after 13 March and was coronavirus related. That is, an employee was on sick leave because they:

  1. Have coronavirus;
  2. Are self isolating because they or someone they live with has symptoms, and they cannot work from home;
  3. Are self isolating because they have been informed by the NHS or Public Health that they have been in contact with someone with coronavirus;
  4. Are shielding because they are considered high risk.

You cannot claim back SSP paid to an employee who was on sick leave for a non-coronavirus related reason.

Employees who are self isolating because they have returned to the UK from abroad are not entitled to SSP and so therefore are also not covered by the scheme.

If you can claim back, you will be able to claim back two weeks’ SSP at the relevant rate. The current weekly rate is £95.85. Before 6 April the weekly rate was £94.25. If you provide Company Sick Pay on top of SSP, the Government will only reimburse you the amount of the SSP.

The scheme covers all employment contracts, including agency and zero-hour contracts.

Can I claim from the CJRS and the CSSPRS for the same employee?

You are allowed to claim from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme for the same employee but not for the same time period. An employee currently on furlough does not qualify for SSP and so would not be covered by the scheme. If a previously furloughed employee returns to work and subsequently develops coronavirus symptoms, they would go on sick leave and qualify for SSP. You could then reclaim two weeks of the SSP paid to that employee from the Government. Some employers may have chosen to furlough employees who are shielding or self-isolating. In that case the employee is not eligible for SSP and so not covered by the rebate scheme.

How do I submit a claim for the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme?

Claims can be submitted from 26 May on the Government website. You must have already paid the SSP to the employee before submitting the claim. Before going online to submit a claim you must know how many employees you are claiming for, the start and end dates of the claim period, and the total amount of SSP you are claiming back. You do not need to ask employees for a fit note from their doctor to submit a claim. If the pay period for an employee began before 13 March, you must use 13 March as the start date.

If you use an agent who is authorised to do PAYE for you, they can submit a claim on your behalf.

If you are unable to claim online, HMRC will have sent you a letter on how to claim. If you have not received a letter you should contact HMRC.

If you are an employer with questions regarding the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, or you are unsure as to the guidance involving furlough leave, you can contact the team today on 023 8071 7717 or email employment@warnergoodman.co.uk.  Our offices are currently closed for face to face appointments, however we are working remotely and can discuss your questions with you at your convenience.

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.