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COVID-19: Temporary changes to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

3rd April 2020

COVID-19: Temporary changes to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
This article was last updated on 3 April at 14:59.

Temporary changes are being made to SSP regulations as part of the Government’s response to helping businesses during this period of disruption.  

SSP will be payable at a rate of £95.85 per week from 6 April 2020 (at the time of writing it is currently £94.25 per week).

The temporary changes include:

  • Individuals who are not ill but are required to self-isolate based upon Government guidance.
  • SSP will be payable from Day one for affected individuals.
  • Those who are not eligible for SSP, for example, the self-employed or people earning below the lower earnings limit will be able to make a claim for Universal Tax Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance.

Reimbursement of SSP

The proposals are intended to help small and medium sized businesses who employ fewer than 250 employees (part and full-time). HMRC have confirmed (3 April 2020) that connected companies and charities can also use the scheme if their total combined number of PAYE employees are fewer than 250 on or before 28 February 2020. It will help them manage the cost impact of paying SSP for employees affected by COVID-19. The following SSP costs will be eligible for a refund:

  • We understand the employee number test is applied across a group and not per PAYE Scheme, which is consistent with the connected companies/charities rules for the employment allowance.
  • The employee must earn an average of at least £118 per week (£120 per week from 6 April 2020) over the eight weeks prior to the start of the sickness absence.
  • The refund will cover up to two weeks per eligible employee who has been unable to work owing to COVID-19.
  • The size of the employer will be based upon the employee head-count as at 28 February 2020.
  • Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP as a consequence of not being able to work owing to COVID-19.
  • The employee must not be in receipt of statutory maternity pay.
  • The employee is not off work as a result of a trade dispute.
  • The person is not in legal custody.
  • The employee must have earnings which are subject to Class 1 National Insurance (this will exclude employees who are based outside the UK and not subject to UK Class 1 National insurance).
  • Employers will need to maintain records of staff absences. However, employees will not be required to provide a GP fit note.
  • The NHS 111 service will be providing an appropriate substitute note.

Some employees may be able to continue working from home if they are self-isolating but not displaying symptoms. In these circumstances, they would be entitled to their normal contractual salary and will not be claiming SSP.

For employers who pay occupational sick pay, they may require a mechanism to distinguish between payments of SSP and occupational sick pay.

Where employers are seeking to reclaim SSP under the COVID-19 measures, it is not expected that will be dealt with via real time (‘RTI’) reporting, although the payment to the employee will be reported as normal via RTI.

Employers will be required to retain SSP records for a period of three years (confirmed by HMRC on 3 April 2020). Where an employer makes a fraudulent or negligent claim, they will face a penalty of up to £3,000.

The regulations came into force from 13 March 2020 and will initially be in place for eight months.

If you wish to discuss temporary changes to SSP and/or any other COVID-19 related initiatives please contact your usual haysmacintyre contact or email CV19@haysmacintyre.com.

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