HMRC to launch Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

HMRC will launch an online service on May 26 for small and medium sized employers to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to their employees

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme was announced at Budget as part of a package of support measures for businesses affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

This scheme will allow small and medium sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related SSP.

Employers will be able to make their claims through a new online service from May 26.

This means they will receive repayments at the relevant rate of SSP that they have paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.

Therese Coffey, secretary of state for the Department of Work and Pensions, said: ‘We are committed to supporting Britain’s small and medium businesses through this pandemic with a comprehensive package of support.

‘This rebate will put money back in the pockets of millions of employers, ensuring they can hit the ground running as the economy re-opens.’

The current rate of SSP is £95.85 per week, employers can choose to go further and pay more than the statutory minimum if they choose to, but they will only be able to reclaim the SSP rate.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s director general of customer services, said: ‘Our teams have worked hard to deliver this scheme for employers and their employees, to ensure they get the support they need.

‘We want employers to be secure in the knowledge they will receive help as they care for their staff during this difficult period.’

Employers are eligible if they have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started before 28 February 2020 and they had fewer than 250 employees before the same date.

The repayment will cover up to two weeks of SSP, and is payable if an employee is unable to work because they:

  • have coronavirus; or
  • are self-isolating and unable to work from home; or
  • are shielding because they have been advised that they are at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

Kate Palmer, associate director of advisory at business services company Peninsula, said: ‘Sitting alongside the furlough scheme, this new scheme offers more assistance to employers who have seen staff take sick leave as a direct or indirect result of the coronavirus, to help them to keep their business open and functioning throughout the crisis.

It is interesting that, unlike the furlough scheme, this assistance is only open to companies of a certain size, suggesting that the government is aware meeting statutory sick pay (SSP) costs is likely to be more difficult for smaller businesses and are therefore putting procedures in place to help them.

‘It remains to be seen if eligibility for reclaiming SSP will be broadened to include larger companies, and it is likely any decisions in this manner will come as we move through the crisis.

‘However, what is clear is that furloughed staff cannot benefit from the SSP Rebate Scheme if they stay on furlough; staff must either be furloughed, or placed on sick leave. They cannot be both at once.’

Connected companies and charities can also use the scheme if their total combined number of PAYE employees are fewer than 250 on or before 28 February 2020. Employees do not have to provide a doctor’s fit note in order for their employer to make a claim under the scheme make a claim.

Employers can furlough their employees who have been advised to shield in line with public health guidance and are unable to work from home, under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Once furloughed, the employee should no longer receive SSP and would be classified as a furloughed employee. Where an employee has been notified to shield and has not been furloughed, the rebate will compensate up to 2 weeks of SSP from 16 April.

The scheme covers all types of employment contracts, including:

  • -full-time employees;
  • -part-time employees;
  • -employees on agency contracts; and
  • -employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts.

To prepare to make their claim, employers should keep records of all the SSP payments that they wish to claim from HMRC. Further guidance is available on GOV.UK.

Zak Jakubowski |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2019-2021]

Zak Jakubowski was a reporter at Accountancy Daily, published by ...

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