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The Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on 21 December £1billion of support for businesses that have been impacted the most by the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron.

The support package includes one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises for the hospitality and leisure businesses in England and £100 million discretionary funding for local authorities to support other businesses.

SSP Rebate scheme to reopen

The Government are also temporarily reopening the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate scheme for Covid related absences for small and medium sized employers across the UK.  

The original scheme, which allowed employers to reclaim up to two weeks SSP per employee for Covid related absence, closed on 30 September 2021.

The SSP rebate scheme will be reintroduced from mid-January 2022 and further guidance will be available on gov.uk as soon as possible.

Who qualifies?

Small and medium sized employers (less than 250 employees) will be able to reclaim for Covid related absence in January retrospectively to 21 December. They will be able to reclaim up to two weeks’ SSP per employee.  

This two-week limit per employee has been reset to enable qualifying employers to make a reclaim, regardless of whether they claimed for employees in the previous SSP Rebate scheme which closed on 30 September 2021.

To qualify employers must be:

  • 1. They are UK-based. 
  • 2. They employed fewer than 250 employees as of 30 November 2021. 
  • 3. They had a PAYE payroll system as off 30 November 2021.
  • 4. They have already paid their employees’ COVID-related SSP.

The number of people affected by Covid and unable to work due to illness or self-isolation is anticipated to spike in January 2022 following the festive period. 

Employers must use the HMRC online service to claim back SSP from mid-January to make the reclaim, rather than adjusting the Employer Payment Summary (EPS).

Under the previous SSP Rebate scheme, the waiting days were suspended for Covid related absences to enable employers to pay SSP from the first qualifying day of sickness.  It is anticipated that this rule will continue when the scheme reopens in January 2022.

Record keeping

Employers making a claim under the rebate scheme are required to keep the following records for a period of 3 years after the date that they received payment for their claim:

  1. the dates the employee was off sick 
  2. which of those dates were qualifying days  
  3. the reason they said they were off work due to COVID19 
  4. the employee’s National Insurance number 

Legislation

Secondary legislation will be laid by HMRC under powers provided by sections 39 to 44 of the Coronavirus Act 2020.  This falls within the Temporary Framework for State Aid for Covid-19 responses adopted by the European Commission.

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