In what appears to be another step closer to normality, from 17 March 2022 the Government is closing the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS) meaning employers will no longer be able to claim back statutory sick pay (SSP) paid to employees who are absent from work for Covid-19 related reasons.
The temporary scheme was designed to support small to medium sized employers facing a heightened level of sickness absence due to Covid-19. The Scheme allowed those employers to claim back up to 2 weeks of SSP paid to employees.
To be eligible, an employer had to be UK based, have fewer than 250 employees, and have had a PAYE payroll system in place as of 30 November 2021. The Employee was not required to have tested positive for Covid-19, but their absence had to be connected to Covid-19. For example, the employee may have been notified by the NHS to self-isolate but may never have a positive Covid-19 test.
The removal of the SSPRS will come into place for coronavirus related absences commencing after 17 March; employers will have until 24 March to submit any new claims or amend existing ones. From 24 March, there will be a return to the pre-pandemic arrangements removing an employee’s right to SSP from the first day of their absence and marking the end of SSP for asymptomatic employees. This change comes about as part of the ‘Living with Covid’ plan that was announced at the start of last week.
The Federation of Small Businesses and the Trades Union Congress have jointly called on the UK Chancellor to give permanent financial assistance to small and medium sized businesses, expand the support to cover all sickness absence rather than only those related to Covid-19 and to remove the lower earnings threshold of £120 per week. In an open letter to Rishi Sunak, the two organisations ask the Government to take “a fresh look at the issue” due to the “new awareness of the need for people to protect their health at work.”
As the UK begins living with Covid, it might be goodbye to the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme but, ‘hello’ to a fresh way of looking at the role of statutory sick pay and the impact that it has on the health of the UK workforce.
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