Coronavirus sick pay scheme opens for small businesses

The amount on offer from the government is worth nearly £200 per employee, according to a statement from HM Treasury and may benefit design studios with less than 250 employees.

Small and medium-sized businesses — which includes most design consultancies — will now be able to apply to recoup coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) costs from the government.

First announced in chancellor Rishi Sunak’s inaugural Spring Budget back in March, the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme was billed as a way to ensure the businesses and people would not lose out if they needed to take time off of work because of COVID-19 symptoms.

Payments made both to those diagnosed with the virus, and those self-isolating as a precaution are eligible for rebate, with the government hoping this will act as a “further boost” to employers affected by the pandemic, alongside its various other support packages.

£200 per employee

Firms employing fewer than 250 members of staff invited to apply from today to cover SSP costs relating not only full and part-time employees, but also those on agency contracts or flexible and zero-hours contracts. There is no such similar support on offer for self-employed or freelance workers – in this case workers are advised to apply for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

Under the initiative, companies could be able to recover two weeks’ worth of SSP per sick worker – with the current rate of SSP being £95.85 a week, this is worth nearly £200 per person. Where an employer has chosen to pay beyond the statutory minimum, they will not be able to apply for more than the standard SSP rate.

To be eligible for a rebate on any given worker, the period of sick pay will need to have been from either 13 March, if an employee had coronavirus, symptoms or was self-isolating because someone they live with had symptoms, or from 16 April if an employee was shielding because of coronavirus.

Crucially, employers do not need to produce a doctor’s fit note for any employee in order to claim through the scheme.

Recommended information to have to hand

To get the rebate, employers will need to give the relevant details for their business and employees. The government has published guidance on this, recommending having the following information to hand to avoid delays:

  • A government gateway ID and password;
  • Registration for PAYE online;
  • Employer PAYE scheme reference number;
  • Total amount of coronavirus related SSP paid to employees within the claim period;
  • Number of employees you’re claiming for and the start and end date of each claim period;
  • UK bank and contact details.

Once submitted, the claim is then validated and approved – the aim of the scheme is to have rebates paid out to companies within six working days after this.

To access the service, visit the gov.uk website.

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