Employers are now able to recover any coronavirus-related statutory sick pay (SSP), with HM Revenue & Customs accepting applications from today.
The online claims service launched this morning (26 May) and allows small- and medium-sized organisations to apply to HMRC to reclaim Covid-19-related SSP they have paid to current or former employees after 13 March 2020.
Statutory sick pay rebate
Employers are eligible under the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme if they have a PAYE payroll scheme that started before 28 February 2020 and fewer than 250 employees before this date.
They can reclaim up to two weeks’ SSP paid to employees with coronavirus; employees who are self-isolating and unable to work from home; or are shielding because they are at high risk.
HMRC said employers will receive their rebate within six working days.
Work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey, 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.”
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.”
The scheme covers all types of employment contract, including agency workers and those on zero-hours contracts.
Employees do not need to provide a fit note from a doctor in order for their employer to submit a claim.
For Richard Kenyon, an employment lawyer at Fieldfisher, the announcement was “a blast from the pre-furlough past”.
“Provisions to enable employers with fewer than 250 employees to reclaim SSP paid in respect of Covid-19-related sickness absence, were heralded in the Coronavirus Act 2020 at the end of March 2020,” he said. “These benefits have been eclipsed by the cash lifeline that is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. However, they are a welcome introduction as part of a move back into work and maintaining a safe working environment.”
Kenyon reminded employers that the government made a number of changes to what amounts to deemed incapacity under the SPP regulations when it announced its coronavirus response package.
“The aim of the changes is to ensure that those who are a coronavirus spreading risk or more at risk of dying from coronavirus exposure, are incentivised to stay away from work. Therefore the three ‘waiting days’ do not apply and SSP is due from day one for those who are self-isolating or shielding,” he said.