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Covid sick pay rebate scheme reinstated for Plan B
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Statutory sick pay rebate scheme resurrected

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Small and medium-sized employers will be able to claim refunds of SSP paid to employees for Covid-related absences taken from 21 December 2021.

21st Dec 2021
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Chancellor Rishi Sunak has made a surprise announcement to reinstate the statutory sick pay (SSP) rebate scheme for smaller employers.

The 'old' rebate scheme closed on 30 September 2021, although rebates of covid-related SSP paid to employees can be reclaimed by qualifying employers until 31 December 2021.

New rebate scheme

The new SSP rebate scheme will apply where the employee has taken sick leave due to Covid-related reasons from the day of the announcement; 21 December 2021. No rebates of SSP can be claimed for periods of absence between 1 October 2021 to 20 December 2021 inclusive, whatever the size of the employer.

A maximum of two weeks of SSP can be claimed per employee, but this ignores any amounts of SSP claimed for the employee under the old SSP (pre-October 2021) rebate scheme.

The Treasury announcement warns that this is a temporary scheme, but gives no indication of when it will close.

Who qualifies?

The Treasury factsheet on the revised SSP rebate scheme advises that an employer has to meet four conditions to be eligible:

  • It must be UK-based
  • It must have fewer than 250 employees on 30 November 2021. This is expected to apply to all the PAYE schemes operated by the employer, so advisers will have to consider any connected employers, just as is the case for claiming the employment allowance
  • It must have a PAYE scheme set up by 30 November 2021.
  • It must have paid the covid-related SSP to its employees, which it is now reclaiming.

The conditions for the earlier rebate scheme relating to state aid have disappeared. As the UK is no longer a member of the EU, the temporary EU framework granting state aid to small and medium sized employers is not applicable.

How to claim

The online reclaims portal will open in mid-January 2022 and will be accessed through this Gov.uk page. The employer will need their government gateway user ID to make a claim, but tax agents are expected to be able to make claims on behalf of their clients. 

Information requirements

The old SSP rebate scheme guidance made it clear that the following information is needed for a claim and this is expected to be similar for the new rebate scheme:

  • The employer PAYE scheme reference number
  • A contact name and telephone phone number
  • UK bank or building society details for Bacs payments
  • The total amount of Covid-19 SSP paid for the claim period
  • The number of employees being claimed for
  • The start date and end date of the claim period.

Each claim can cover multiple employees and there is no indication that each employee will have to be identified individually in the claim by say their NI number.

Records to keep

The employer will have to keep records of the SSP paid and reclaimed for each employee, including all of the following:

  • dates the employee was off sick
  • which of those dates were qualifying days for SSP
  • the reasons given for absence relating to Covid-19
  • the employee’s national insurance number.

No alternative

During the previous statutory sick pay rebate scheme, which applied for absences between 13 March 2020 and 30 September 2021, the CJRS scheme was also in place. As a result, employers had an incentive to put employees on furlough and pay them 80% of their normal wage rather than pay them SSP. Although for periods from 1 September to 31 October 2020 and 1 July to 30 September 2021 the employer could only reclaim 60% or 70% of the employee’s normal wages.

There is now no alternative to SSP for the employer, and for employees it is very thin gruel indeed. Few employees could survive on only the SSP rate of £96.35 per week (£13.77 per day) for any length of time.

Get the basics right

  1. The SSP rate is £96.35 per week for 2021/22, although employers can pay a higher level of sick pay, the SSP rate is the maximum which can be reclaimed per employee.
  2. The 28-week maximum SSP rule has not changed. SSP cannot exceed 28 weeks in any period of incapacity for work (PIW) or series of linked PIWs. Check that SSP was payable in the first place and does not exceed the maximum number of weeks payable.
  3. The three-day waiting requirement for Covid-related SSP has not been reinstated, so SSP for covid-related absences can be paid from the first day of absence until the regulations are reviewed, or expire on 24 March 2022.

Read the guidance!

Employers and tax agents should look out for further HMRC guidance and read it in full. There will also be regulations issued to govern this scheme under the Coronavirus Act 2020 ss39–44.

We will keep you informed as more information becomes available.

Replies (5)

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By Hugo Fair
21st Dec 2021 17:39

There's a subtle difference between 'hot off the press' and 'jumping to conclusions' ... so well done for trying to bridge that gap.

Some of the judgement calls (such as the retention of the 'no need to keep PIW unpaid' rule if only on the basis that we haven't yet reached the due date for it's death) are probably a safe bet. However some key factors are still unknown - in particular whether it can only be applied where the 'sickness absence' relates to actual infection, or whether it covers recommended (but not enforced) isolation at home?

And one point of correction - even though it only relates to a missing apostrophe!
In your "Who qualifies?" section, your 4th bullet-point says "It must have already paid its employees covid-related SSP"; whereas ...
In the issued factsheet it says "They have already paid their employees’ COVID-related SSP".
The missing apostrophe can lead the reader to assume that the scheme is only available to an employer who has previously used the earlier scheme - whereas the true restriction is merely that the employer can only reclaim SSP that it has already paid to the employee(s).

Thanks (3)
Replying to Hugo Fair:
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By Paul Crowley
21st Dec 2021 18:28

The last point you make is a good one
I perceived the misread and immediately thought: daft cannot be correct

Thanks (0)
Replying to Hugo Fair:
Head of woman
By Rebecca Cave
22nd Dec 2021 10:30

I've reworded that bullet point to make the position clear.

Thanks (2)
Replying to Rebecca Cave:
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By Hugo Fair
22nd Dec 2021 11:29

Thanks.
Could you explain the concept of responsiveness to HMRC whilst you're on a roll ... perhaps using this thread as an example! :+)
I've never had any kind of reply to all the errors I report in their example tables (let alone those within GOV.UK 'guidance') although, strangely enough, corrections are eventually made a few weeks/months later.

Thanks (2)
Replying to Rebecca Cave:
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By Paul Crowley
22nd Dec 2021 17:13

Spot on
Reads easy now
Even a simple person like me can understand it

Much appreciation
Your articles really do the business

Thanks (2)