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Guide to providing statutory sick pay (SSP) & reclaiming tax

The following guide outlines the latest Government advice on paying employees statutory sick pay if they are self-isolating due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Who is entitled to receive SSP?

Employees who are self-isolated are eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) if they meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • They have coronavirus
  • They have symptoms of coronavirus
  • Someone in their household has coronavirus so they need to self-isolate for 14 days
  • They have received medical advice to self-isolate

If a worker lives on their own, they are expected to self-isolate for 7 days. The Government has told workers that they don’t need to obtain a sick note from a medical professional to qualify for SSP. 

How much SSP are workers entitled to?

Despite these exceptional circumstances, existing SSP rules still apply. Workers are entitled to SSP payments if they:

  • Have done some work under their contract
  • Receive a minimum average weekly wage of £118 per week for the 2019/tax year, increasing to £120 per week from 6 April 2020

The Government has made the decision to ensure SSP is paid from day 1 of isolation from 13 March 2020. The rates are as follows:

  • £94.25 per week for 19/20 tax year
  • £95.85 per week for 20/21 tax year

SSP should be paid to any eligible employee regardless of the number of days worked (known as qualifying days), although part-time workers will receive less SSP than their full-time peers as the table below sets out:

Unrounded daily rates Number of qualifying days in week 1 day to pay 2 days to pay 3 days to pay 4 days to pay 5 days to pay 6 days to pay 7 days to pay
13.6928 7 13.70 27.39 41.08 54.78 68.47 82.16 95.85
15.9750 6 15.98 31.95 47.93 63.90 79.88 95.85
19.1700 5 19.17 38.34 57.51 76.68 95.85
23.9625 4 23.97 47.93 71.89 95.85
31.9500 3 31.95 63.90 95.85
47.9250 2 47.93 95.85
95.85 1 95.85

Reclaiming SSP due to coronavirus

Some small and medium-sized (SME) employers with 250 workers or less can reclaim coronavirus SSP via the following conditions:

  • 2 weeks per self-isolating employee may be claimed
  • The size of the company will be determined by staffing numbers on 28 February 2020

This advice hasn’t extended to employers in a group of companies, or whether this is based on a PAYE reference basis. We suggest that it is based on PAYE to align with the small employers’ relief for advanced funding of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).

The Government has announced that it will work with employers to set up a repayment mechanism to reclaim SSP through your Real Time Information (RTI) submissions.

Head to the official COVID-19 support for businesses page to access more information.

Paying SSP during a business closure

Some businesses may need to close temporarily or ask workers to reduce their hours during this time of uncertainty. Unless it is stated otherwise in their contracts, staff are entitled to pay for this time.

Employees who have been laid off and are not entitled to SSP may be entitled to a statutory guarantee payment of up to £29 a day from their employer. This extends to a maximum of 5 days in a 3-month period. After that, employees are advised to claim Jobseekers Allowance. Maximum amounts, based on age, income and savings, are:

Age JSA weekly amount
Up to 24 up to £57.90
25 or over up to £73.10
Couples (both aged over 18) up to £114.85

Utilising holiday entitlement

Employers have the right to tell their staff when to take holiday, for example, use a week’s holiday entitlement to cover the closure of the business for a week.

If you decide to do this as an employer, you must inform your staff at least twice as many days before the number of days you need people to take – 10 days before for 5 days closure, for example.

This will clearly encroach on existing booked or planning holiday. Staff will be aware of the current exceptional circumstances, but it is your responsibility to:

  • Clearly outline the reasoning behind the course of action
  • Address staff worries about their future plans and entitlements

Contact Cardens for Statutory Sick Pay Guidance

We recommend reviewing official guidance regularly to ensure you’re up to date with announcements and options for business. In the meantime, our team are happy to support your business to ensure you are aware of available reliefs and tax claims.

Contact us at or 01273 739592 to discuss your circumstances.

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