As part of the Government Support package for Employers, it was agreed back in March that they would be able to reclaim 2 weeks Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for employees specifically affected by Covid19. Ordinarily, Employers have not been able to reclaim SSP paid out in respect of its employees and this was seen as a welcome amendment.
As from 26 May 2020, the HMRC portal opened that allows eligible Employers to reclaim any SSP that has been paid specifically relating to Covid 19. The scheme allows up to 2 weeks paid SSP to be reclaimed per Employee based on the current weekly SSP rates of £94.25 before 5 April 2020 and £95.85 after 5 April 2020.
Criteria relating to Employees:
Repayment will cover up to 2 weeks SSP starting from the first day of sickness, if an employee was unable to work because they:
- Had coronavirus symptoms (periods starting on or after 13 March 2020)
- Cannot work because they were self-isolating because someone they live with had symptoms (periods starting on or after 13 March 2020)
- Are shielding and have a letter from the NHS or GP telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks (periods starting on or after 16 April 2020) – Please note that if the employee is receiving furlough pay for the 12 weeks that they are shielding you cannot pay or reclaim SSP.
- The employee has been notified by the NHS or Public Health bodies that they’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus (periods starting after 28 May 2020). This specifically relates to the new track and trace approach being adopted by the Government.
Criteria for a successful reclaim by an Employer:
- As an Employer you must employ fewer than 250 people on 28 February. This includes all employees across multiple PAYE schemes for the same employer.
- You must have a Payroll Scheme that was created and started before 28 February 2020.
- As an Employer you must have paid the employee an amount equivalent to the SSP rate.
Information needed for the reclaim:
- An online PAYE account or your Agent is able to do this for you if they hold a FBI2. Claims can currently only be undertaken using the online portal that has been created.
- The claim period. The claim period can include one or more pay periods that include CSSP payments to your employees. The start date is the first day of the earliest pay period and cannot be before 13 March 2020. The end date is the last day of the most recent pay period.
- The total number of employees covered by the claim period that received CSSP payments.
- Total amount being reclaimed for all employees covered by the claim period.
- Bank Account details including sort code, account number, account name and business address associated with the bank details.
Records that must be kept to support the claim:
In respect of any claims for SSP an Employer must keep the following records for the 3 years after the date the payment has been received.
- The name and national insurance number of all employees that are included on the claim.
- The dates that each employee was off sick and confirmation which were qualifying days.
- The reason why they were off sick – ie symptoms, some they lived with had symptoms, shielding etc. Personally I would recommend issuing self-certification sick forms to those employees for whom claims are being made and ask them to sign the document. This could then provide valuable evidence for the claim if you were inspected.
- A copy of the claim summary and confirmation which should be kept until 31 December 2024.
- C Lion, an employee, fell ill with coronavirus symptoms on 10 March 2020 and was off work for 2 weeks returning on Wednesday 18 March 2020.
As the period of sickness started before 13 March 2020 no claim can be made under the scheme. Any SSP paid to the employee should have been made under the normal SSP rules or the company’s sick policy. Sadly, this will be a cost for the Employer to bear.
- P Guin, an employee, phoned in on 17 March 2020 and explained that her husband had symptoms of coronavirus. The company was satisfied that this was the case and advised the employee to stay at home for 14 days and return on 31 March 2020.
As the period of sickness started after 13 March 2020 and the conditions were eligible, the company were entitled to pay, P Guin, 14 days sick pay from 17 March and as result will be entitled to reclaim £188.50 via the SSP scheme.
- O Utang, an employee, was sick from 15 March 2020 until 10 April 2020 with suspected coronavirus symptoms.
As the period and conditions are eligible the company should have paid 2 weeks SSP from 15 March 2020 and the remaining period would also be subject to SSP. Whilst the employee was effectively off for nearly 4 weeks, only £188.50 (maximum 2 weeks per employee) can be claimed back via the scheme. The remaining SSP and other payments for this period would remain a cost for the employer.
As a final reminder, if your contract of employment states an alternative or enhanced sick policy. this should continue to have been adopted by the company. This does not prevent a claim being made under the scheme, but it would be subject to the maximum payment stated for SSP. For example if your policy is that an individual receives 5 days full pay for the first 5 days sick in any year, and that employee has not been sick previously in the last 12 months. If they were off for 14 days due to Covid related matters they should receive 5 days full pay + 9 days SSP. The employer could then claim back either £188.50 or £191.70 under the scheme depending on the date of illness.
Posted by Lisa Greenwood
The views expressed in this article are the personal views of the Author and other professionals may express different views. They may not be the views of Lambert Chapman LLP. The material in the article cannot and should not be considered as exhaustive. Professional advice should be sought in connection with any of the issues contained in the article and the implementation of any actions.