Statutory Sick Pay– a guide for businesses

15 January 2021 - Elizabeth O'Hanlon

The third national lockdown is now underway, and many people are aware of friends and family who have had the virus. Businesses are having to cope with employees being off sick, self isolating or shielding  – often more than in the first lockdown in March last year. Sarah Healey Pearce looks at the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (CSSPRS) in more detail and explains how and when it can be claimed. 
The furlough scheme has been well publicised, but this scheme was never intended to be used for short term sickness, so the government introduced the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (CSSPRS) last year to help small and medium sized businesses support employees who are in this situation.
Amounts received under the CSSPRS are classed as state aid and therefore must not exceed the maximum amount receivable.
Who can claim?
Employers with less than 250 employees on 28 February 2020 across all payroll schemes registered at this date can make a claim to cover up to 2 weeks of sick pay paid to an employee.
The sick pay must have already been paid to the employee before the claim is made and the employee must be eligible to receive it due to coronavirus.
Employers do not need to ask the employee for a fitness note from their doctor to enable a claim to be made, but they can ask to see correspondence from either the NHS or their doctor confirming that the employee should be shielding or self isolating.
Who can businesses claim for?  
Reclaiming SSP under this scheme can only be done if the employee:

  • Has coronavirus symptoms
  • Is self-isolating because they live with someone who has symptoms or is in a support bubble with someone who has symptoms
  • Has been notified by the NHS or their doctor that they should be self isolating or shielding
  • Has been off for at least four consecutive days for one of the above reasons

The repayment will be at the rate of £95.85 per week and more than one claim can be made for an employee, up to a maximum of 2 weeks. A claim can be made from the first qualifying day the period of sickness starts.
For those businesses that have a company scheme that pays sick pay to employees at a higher rate than SSP, only the SSP amount of £95.85 can be reclaimed from HMRC.
Making a claim
Claims can be made online by logging into the government gateway for PAYE. Employee names, National Insurance numbers, amounts being claimed and details of where you would like the rebate paid to, will all be required.
HMRC have written to employers that are unable to do this with details of other ways to claim.
Alternatively, an agent, like Scrutton Bland, can make the claim on your behalf as long as the correct HMRC authorisations are in place.
Records of claims made should be kept for 3 years and should include the dates and reason the employee was off sick as well as the employee’s NI number.
Unlike the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS),  there are no deadlines in place for making claims, nor have the government announced when the scheme will be withdrawn.
Interation with CJRS
As mentioned at the start of this article, the CJRS (or furlough scheme) was never intended to cover short term periods of illness, self isolating or shielding due to coronavirus. However, businesses may now find themselves in a situation where previously furloughed employees are off sick. An employee can be included in both a furlough claim and an SSP claim, but not for the same period.
If there is a commercial reason to furlough an employee who is self isolating or shielding, then this can be done instead of using the CSSPRS sick pay scheme, assuming that the business and employee meets the criteria for the CJRS.

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