The government scheme enabling small businesses to recoup statutory sick pay costs due to coronavirus were closed at the end of the month, meaning any outstanding claims must be made by the 31 December 2021.
Legislation ending the corona virus statutory sick pay rebate scheme (SSPRS) was laid before parliament on the 9 September 2021.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic employers were obliged to pay statutory sick pay (SSP) two eligible employees unable to work because of sickness. It is paid at a flat rate of £96.35 (at the current rate) for up to 28 weeks. The full cost of SSP is met by the employer.
To support employers during the pandemic the government legislated to allow certain small or medium sized employers to reclaim some, or all, of their SSP costs from HMRC via the SSPRS.
Under the new regulations, employers will not be able to reclaim SSP from 30 September 2021 and any claims relating to periods prior to that date must have been filed by 31 December 2021.
Employees will continue to remain entitled to SSP from day one of the PIW if the absence is for coronavirus-related reasons.
How it started
In March 2020, two announcements were made that would help employees with the payment of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and help employers with recovery from the pandemic:
On 3March 2020, the Prime Minister announced that COVID-19 related SSP would be payable from the first qualifying day rather than after three waiting days (that still applies with ‘normal SSP’). This factor of ‘Coronavirus SSP’ is being retained.
Employees will continue to remain entitled to SSP from day one of the period of incapacity for work (PIW) but only if the absence is for coronavirus-related reasons.
Rishi Sunak confirmed at Budget 2020 that reimbursement of SSP would be for employers with fewer than 250 employees.
HMRC’s Online reclaims portal opened on 26 May 2020, accessible via government gateway user ID. When reclaiming the SSP, the employer must provide the PAY E scheme reference number and the total amount of COVID-19 SSP paid for the claim period. It must also make these declarations:
That the employer was not ‘in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019 or 29 June 2020 depending on the dates of sickness.
Confirmed the amount claimed will not result in the amount of state aid received making them exceed the allowable cap for their sector.
That the information stated in the claim is true and accurate.
The new legislation means that eligible employers cannot use the scheme (and make reclaims) for any COVID SSP absence occurring after 30 September 2021.
However, the legislation allows for a transitional administrative arrangement that is in place until 31 December 2021 allowing employers the time to either submit any claims or amend any claims.