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Many employers are claiming COVID SSP back from the HMRC under the Coronavirus Rebate Scheme.

Most often it is because they have had an employee self-isolate due to Coronavirus.  You can claim for employees after you have paid them SSP, not before. There is up to 14 days (2 weeks) of COVID SSP available per eligible employee. You cannot claim for an employee who doesn’t meet the lower earnings level for SSP, currently £120 per week.

Who can use the scheme?

 There are other eligibility criteria for the employer:

  • you have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020
  • you had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020 across all your PAYE payroll schemes

What evidence can you ask your employee to give you that they are self-isolating?

Whilst you do not need them to present you with a Statement of Fitness for Work you can ask them to provide you with either:

  • an isolation note from NHS 111– if they are self-isolating and cannot work because of coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • a ‘shielding note’ or a letter from their doctor or health authority advising them to shield because they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus

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)

What happens if they are furloughed?

You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme for the same employee but obviously not for the same period of time.

What will you be able to claim?

The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks SSP starting from the first qualifying day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they:

  • have coronavirus symptoms
  • are self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms
  • are self-isolating because they’ve been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that they’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus
  • have been advised by letter to shield because they’re clinically extremely vulnerable and at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus
  • have been notified by the NHS to self-isolate before surgery for up to 14 days

You can make more than one claim per employee, but you cannot claim for more than 2 weeks in total.

You can claim from the first qualifying day your employee is off work if the period of sickness started on or after:

  • 13 March 2020 – if your employee had coronavirus or the symptoms or is self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms
  • 16 April 2020 – if your employee was shielding because of coronavirus
  • 28 May 2020 – if your employee has been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that they’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus
  • 26 August 2020 – if your employee has been notified by the NHS to self-isolate before surgery

Most people are asked to self-isolate for 3 days before surgery. In this case, the day of surgery will be the 4th day of their period of incapacity for work. You cannot claim repayment of SSP for the day of surgery or any other days when the absence is not due to coronavirus.

A ‘qualifying day’ is a day an employee usually works on. The weekly rate is £95.85 (this will rise to £96.35 from 6 April 2021).

If you’re an employer who pays more than the weekly rate of SSP you can only claim up to the weekly rate paid.

What if an employee has returned to the UK from overseas?

Since June 2020, some people entering or returning to the UK have been required to quarantine for 10 days. If an employee is unable to work during this period, they will not qualify for SSP unless they also meet one of the criteria above.

What records must you keep?

You must keep records of SSP that you’ve paid and want to claim back from HMRC. We have created a snazzy little form for this purpose which you will find here.

You must keep the following records for 3 years after the date you receive the payment for your claim. 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.

How to claim

You must have paid your employees’ sick pay before you claim it back. You can claim back coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay using the online service. If you use an agent who is authorised to do PAYE online for you, they will be able to claim on your behalf. Employers who are unable to claim online should have received a letter on an alternative way to claim. Contact HMRC if you have not received a letter and are unable to make any eligible claims online.

If you need any assistance with managing your employees during the pandemic please call us on 01527 909436.