Can employers claim back sick pay during coronavirus?

Find out your staff’s standing if they need to take some time off.

First published on Wednesday, Jul 08, 2020

Last updated on Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the UK government is providing financial support to businesses with the Job Retention Scheme.

But you may still have questions about certain things with daily business life, such as statutory sick pay (SSP) entitlements. And if you can get an SSP employer rebate for employees’ time off because of coronavirus.

You can also get extra support, such as with our back to work navigator and furlough navigator tool. These can help you manage other areas of your business, while looking to claim back SSP.

Can staff claim sick pay due to coronavirus?

Yes, if they’re off sick due to it they can make a claim for sick pay from you. If they’re off ill, they can claim SSP. it’s paid to employees during COVID-19.

Remember, though, that SSP is provided to employees at all times if they’re off sick. Not just during the pandemic.

Can employers claim back sick pay during coronavirus?

Yes, you can claim back up to two weeks worth of SSP with the UK’s government’s SSP rebate scheme for COIVD-19.

However, this is subject to eligibility. You can’t just apply and receive the money back, there’s criteria you need to meet. These are:

  • You have already paid your employee’s sick pay.
  • The employee is eligible for sick pay during coronavirus.
  • You run a PAYE scheme that you were using before 28th February 2020.
  • There were fewer than 250 members of staff on PAYE on 28th February 2020.

Under the current system, employees also don’t have to provide you with a fit note from their doctor. However, you can still ask them for an isolation note from NHS 111. That’s an online service--it’s free to use.

You can also request to see a letter from the NHS or their GP informing them to stay at home due to shielding and/or coronavirus infection.

How do you apply for the coronavirus statutory sick pay scheme?

You can claim back SSP on the UK government site. There’s a “Claim Now” icon down the page--scroll to it to begin the process.

You’ll need your Government Gateway user ID and password to start. Other important information to claim for the SSP rebate scheme for coronavirus are:

  • The total number of employees you need to make an SSP claim for.
  • All start and end dates.
  • The amount of money you provided to them.
  • Individual PAYE numbers for your staff.
  • Contact names and numbers in the event the government needs to make a direct query.
  • Your bank account details--so you can receive payment.

Once you make your claim, the finances should reach your account within six working days.

Who is eligible for the SSP rebate scheme?

Employees do. But only if they have:

  • An employment contract.
  • Completed work under their contract.
  • Been off due to the coronavirus. They can receive SSP from day one (the four day rule does not apply).
  • Earned at least £120 a week.
  • Provided your business with notice.

They’ll have eligibility under the following reasons:

  • They self-isolated after 13th March 2020 due to someone having symptoms of coronavirus within their household.
  • They’re shielding (because of underlying health conditions) and have been since at least 16th April 2020.
  • They began self-isolating on, or after, 28th May 2020 due to coming into contact with a person who has coronavirus.

The scheme covers all employment contract types for employees and workers who are:

  • Full-time.
  • Part-time.
  • Agencies.
  • Flexible or on zero-hours.
  • Fixed-term.

Employee exceptions for SSP eligibility

You should keep in mind the below, which covers the reasons why some staff can’t take statutory sick pay.

  • They have maxed out the total they can have annually--that’s 28 weeks.
  • They’re on statutory maternity pay (SMP) or their maternity allowance.
  • Illness because of pregnancy in the previous four weeks before their baby is due.
  • If they were on strike for the first day of their sickness.
  • If they were in custody for the first day of their sickness.
  • Work outside the EU and don’t make National Insurance (NI) contributions.
  • Took employment and support allowance 12 weeks before starting/making their return to work.

For employees with long-term sickness

If staff are off work with a serious illness and their 28 week total runs out, as an employer you can complete form SSP1.

This way, the member of staff can apply for employment support allowance (ESA).

As an option, it provides these employees with an extra financial lifeline during a difficult time.

Janine Lennon

Head of Payroll Services

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