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IMPORTANT CHANGES: Coronavirus Sick Pay Comes to an End – What Happens Next?

COVID Sick Pay

From the 30th September 2021, the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, along with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough), will both come to an end. But what does this mean? What happens next?

As we climb our way out of the jaws of Coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions and return to a sense of normality, one thing is clear; COVID-19 is here to stay. We must find a way to live alongside it which means we should now familiarise ourselves once again, with the rules around sickness absence with COVID absences being part of our daily lives!

What is the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme?

Introduced for small and medium sized employers (fewer than 250 members of staff), the scheme was designed to help these businesses recover a maximum of 2 weeks’ statutory sick pay to employees who were off work due to any COVID related sickness absence. It replaced the standard Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for anyone who tested positive and were unable to work, and allowed the employer to apply for a rebate rather than the employer bearing the cost of SSP as under the standard scheme. This enabled businesses to claim the money back and receive help.

From 1st October 2021 the rebate scheme will no longer be in effect and anyone who catches the virus after this date may be entitled to receive SSP or company sick pay but the employer can no longer apply for the rebate. Previously, if the employee became sick but was furloughed, the employer would be able to keep them on furlough rather than moving the employee to SSP. They could therefore continue to pay furlough during this period and still be able to claim it back from the Furlough scheme. Now that furlough is also ending, employers must place their workers on SSP (providing they satisfy the relevant qualifying criteria).

Which employees can you claim for?

Anyone who is classed as an employee, both full-time and part-time employees; employees on agency contracts; employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts or fixed term contractors (until their contract ends) are eligible, provided they were on a PAYE payroll scheme that was created or started on or before 28th February 2020.  

You can claim back up to 2 weeks of SSP or amend claims form employees you have already paid SSP to before 30th September 2021.

Do I have to have evidence to support a claim through the rebate scheme?

Employees are not required to have given you a fit note for you to make the claim.  

That being said, for audit purposes, it is best practice for you to ask your employee to provide you with either an isolation note from NHS 111if they were self-isolating and couldn’t work because of COIVD; or a shielding note or a letter from the doctor advising them to shield because they are high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

How much SSP can I claim through the rebate scheme?

The amount you can claim back will be the relevant SSP rate at the time, in other words, for periods between 13th March 2021 and 5th April 2021, the SSP weekly rate was £95.85. For claims between 6th April and 30th September 2021, the SSP weekly rate was £96.35.

It is important to note that you can only claim up to the weekly rate of SSP even if you pay enhanced company sick pay.

Do we have to pay workers who are off sick with COVID-19 after 30th September 2021?

Due to some quirk in the legislation (due to legislation not being updated in line with the closure of the COVID-SSP Rebate Scheme) employers will continue to manage their employees sickness absence by understanding whether their absence is COVID related or not.

This means that if an employee has symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19 they should be paid SSP from day one – however, if an employee falls ill for example with a run of the mill cold, they will only be entitled to SSP after the normal 3 days waiting period.

Employers will have to cover the cost of SSP for employees who cannot work because they are affected by COVID with no government support!

How long do I have to claim for the rebate scheme?

Employers who were eligible for the rebate scheme will have until the 31st December 2021 to make any final claims, or to amend claims you have already submitted, for periods up to the 30th September 2021, or they will face missing out. From the 1st October 2021, employers will now have to cover the cost of SSP for workers affected by Coronavirus from day 1.

How HR:4UK Can help you?

As employers start to navigate their way through sickness absence post COVID, if you need any help or advice, HR:4UK is here to help! Get in touch with one of our advisors today on 01455 444222 and we will assist you on an individual case-by-case basis.

Angela Clay

A qualified employment law solicitor and our managing director, Angela has unparalleled legal expertise and decades of experience and knowledge to draw from. She’s a passionate speaker and writer that loves to keep employers updated with upcoming changes to legislation, and is a regular guest speaker on BBC Leicester Radio.