The Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Rebate Scheme was introduced during the pandemic to support employers whose employees were off work due to COVID-19 infection or legally mandated self-isolation. It currently entitles businesses with fewer than 250 employees to reclaim up to two weeks’ SSP for coronavirus-related employee absences that occurred on or after 21 December 2021, up to a maximum of £96.35 per week. In order to be eligible, businesses must also have a PAYE payroll scheme that started on or before 30 November 2021. One of the final COVID-19 government support schemes closed on 17 March 2022 as part of the government’s recently announced Living with COVID-19 plan.
What does this mean for employers?
The end of the SSP Rebate Scheme means that employers will not be able to claim back SSP paid out to employees for eligible coronavirus-related sickness absences after 17 March 2022. Employers will have until 24 March 2022 to submit any final claims for absences up to 17 March, or to amend any claims submitted, after which the employer will be fully responsible for the payment of SSP to all eligible employees.
What are the current SSP rules?
Under the current rules, employers are legally obliged to pay SSP to employees if they have been off sick for at least four consecutive days – this includes any usual non-working days. The obligation to pay SSP starts from the fourth day of sickness absence. For the first three qualifying days, known as “waiting days”, SSP is typically not payable. Employers are obliged to pay SSP for a maximum of 28 weeks at a rate of £96.35 per week.
However, the SSP rules were amended in May 2020 so that those testing positive for COVID-19 or who were legally obliged to self-isolate would be eligible for SSP from the first day of sickness absence, as long as their total absence equalled four days or more. From 24 March 2022, though, employees will lose the right to SSP from day one of their absence in coronavirus-related cases, and all normal SSP rules will resume.
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