The SSP Rebate Scheme, which reimbursed employers for the sick pay paid to employees due to Covid-19, has been reinstated.

The Scheme was created in April 2020 to assist employers with the rising cost of sick pay as employees took time off work because they had Covid, or they were self-isolating.

Eligible employers were able to claim back Covid related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), up to 2 weeks per person, for any absences which fell before 1 October 2021. Paying SSP is a legal requirement provided that the employee meets certain criteria. At the start of the pandemic, SSP laws were extended to include those who were self-isolating, in addition to those who were sick. Because of this, employers found that they were paying substantially more SSP to employees than before.

The Scheme enabled employers with fewer than 250 employees, counted at 28 February 2020, to claim back Covid related SSP to a maximum of 2 weeks per person. The Scheme was closed on 30 September 2021 – the same day the Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme) was closed – due to the UK being in a better place in terms of Covid cases.

However, the emergence of the Omicron variant has seen an increase in cases and therefore an increase in time off from work due to either sickness or self-isolation.

To help employers meet this extra cost, the Scheme re-opened today (21 December 2021) for eligible businesses across the UK however claims cannot be made until mid-January 2022, when they can be made retrospectively. Employers should ensure they carefully record absence, reasons for absence and accompanying evidence in order to be able to make an accurate claim.

It is worth noting that the recent changes to evidential requirements for absence reporting do not apply where the reason for absence is Covid related, so evidence for Covid related reasons can be requested as normal.

Full guidance is awaited from the Government on the mechanics of the re-ignited SSP Rebate Scheme. Areas that must be cleared up include:

  • whether eligibility to use the scheme still depends on headcount at 28 February 2020 or whether a new, more recent, date will be used; and
  • whether the scheme will be reset entirely, meaning that employers can claim in respect of employees that had already reached the maximum re-claim amount permissible.

Clarification on these points will be provided when known.