SMEs can benefit from the SSP rebate scheme in instances where an employee has been absent due to Covid-related reasons.

In December, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a raft of measures to offset the effects of the new Covid variant. This included stating that the SSP rebate scheme – the old version of which had only closed on 30 September 2021 – would be reinstated as a result of the Omicron fallout for businesses.

Under the temporary scheme, smaller businesses are able to claim back a maximum of 2 weeks’ SSP per employee for Covid-related absences, providing the company meets certain eligibility criteria.

Effective from the date of the announcement – 21 December 2021 – the rebates do not cover any absences – Covid-related or otherwise – between 1 October 2021 to 20 December 2021, regardless of the size of the employer.

On 19 January 2022, secondary follow-up legislation and advice for employers was published by the government, outlining how to claim as well as the information and records required to proceed.

Qualification criteria

Employers will be eligible for support if they meet the following:

  • are UK-based
  • had fewer than 250 employees on 30 November 2021
  • had a PAYE scheme on 30 November 2021
  • have paid employees’ statutory sick pay for Covid-related absences

How to claim

Using their government gateway user ID, employers can access the government’s claims portal to obtain SSP rebates, while tax agents will be able to make claims on behalf of their clients.

Each claim made by an employer can cover multiple individuals, with no indication at present that employees will need to be identified separately.

As with the previous SSP rebate scheme, the following information is required to make a claim:

  • reference number for employer PAYE scheme
  • contact name and number
  • UK bank or building society information for Bacs payments
  • the total amount of Covid-19 SSP paid in the claim period
  • the number of employees being claimed for
  • both the start and end date of the claims period

Records of claim-supporting information

In addition to records outlining the SSP paid and reclaimed for each employee, employers need to ensure they also keep the following:

  • date(s) of absence
  • which of those dates qualify under the SSP scheme
  • the reason for absence (although must be related to Covid-19 – symptoms, shielding, in contact with symptomatic individual)
  • the employee’s unique National Insurance number

Alongside these, employers should also either print or save the state aid declaration from their claim summary and keep it until 24 December 2024. In addition, any other records supporting claims must be kept for a period of 3 years after the date the employer receives the funds.

There is currently no known end date for the SSP rebate scheme, although now the effects of Omicron are beginning to diminish across the UK as a whole, it is predicted that the scheme will last until the end of the government’s Plan B restrictions – purported to be in March 2022.

Our advisors are well-versed in aiding employers access additional financial support via government schemes so, if your business has been affected by Covid-related absences since 21 December 2021 and you would like to make an SSP rebate claim, please get in touch with one of our dedicated experts today.