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Month: May 2020

Claim SSP for Coronavirus-related absences

Claim SSP for Coronavirus-related absences

Smaller employers who have paid statutory sick pay (SSP) to employees who were absent from work due to a Coronavirus-related absence can now claim a rebate from the Government. The claim portal went live on 26 May 2020.

Who can claim?

Employers are eligible to make a claim if they have a payroll scheme that was created on or before 28 February 2020 and had fewer than 250 employees on the payroll at that date. They can claim back up to two weeks’ SSP paid to an employee who was absent from work due to Coronavirus.

What can you claim?

An absence counts as a Coronavirus-related absence if the employee is unable to work for one of the following reasons:

  • they had Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms;
  • they were self-isolating because someone in their household had Coronavirus symptoms; or
  • they were shielding and have a letter from either the NHS or their GP telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.

Claims are capped at two weeks’ SSP per employee, even if the employee is absent for work and receiving SSP for longer than this, for example, because they are shielding. Claims can be made for periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020 where the employee either had Coronavirus symptoms themselves or were self-isolating because someone in their household had symptoms, and in relation to periods of absence starting on or after 16 April 2020 where the employee is shielding. If you have paid more than the weekly SSP rate (for example if you pay employees their full pay while sick), the claim is limited to the SSP rate, set at £95.85 per week from 6 April 2020 and at £94.25 before that date. For Coronavirus-related absences, SSP can be paid from the first qualifying day once a period of incapacity for work has been established – the usual three waiting days do not need to be served.

Where SSP is paid for an absence which is not a Coronavirus-related absence, the employer cannot claim it back under the rebate scheme. Normal rules apply in relation to absences that are not related to Coronavirus and the employer must meet the cost of any SSP paid to employees who are absent other than for one of the reasons listed above. Claims can be made for employees in respect of whom a grant has been claimed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; although a claim for a grant and an SSP rebate cannot be made for the same period.

How do we claim?

Claims can be made via the online portal. To claim, you will need:

  • your Government Gateway User ID;
  • employer PAYE scheme reference number;
  • UK bank or building society details for the account into which the rebate is to be paid;
  • the total amount of SSP paid to employees for Coronavirus-related absences;
  • the number of employees in respect of whom a claim is being made; and
  • the start and end date of the claim period.

When claiming, you will also need to provide a contact name and telephone number. Claims can be made at the same time for multiple pay periods and multiple employees.

HMRC will check claims and if satisfied pay the money into the designated account within six working days of the date on which the claim was made.

Do we need records to support the claim?

You do not need to provide evidence when making the claim. However, you do need to keep records of:

  • the dates on which the employees were absent from work;
  • which of those dates were qualifying dates;
  • the reason for their absence, i.e. whether they had symptoms or were shielding; and
  • the National Insurance numbers of the employees in respect of whom a claim is being made.

You do not need to obtain a Fit Note for Coronavirus-related absences.

Records should be kept for three years from the date on which you received the rebate.

Further help

The good news is that HMRC has confirmed that if you have authorised us to do PAYE online for you, we can complete the claim on your behalf. Alternatively, if you prefer, we advise if you are able to make a claim and how to go about it.

May 27, 2020

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced on 12 May that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would be extended until 31 October 2020. The scheme enables employers adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to furlough staff rather than making them redundant, and to claim a grant from the Government for 80% of their wages up to £2,500 a month. It was due to finish at the end of June. It will now continue in its current form until 31 July 2020, with changes being made from August as part of the gradual withdrawal of the scheme.

As at 17 May 2020, 8 million jobs had been furloughed by 986,000 employers who had, in total, claimed grants totally £11.1 billion.

Current support

In its current form, employers can furlough staff and claim a grant from the Government for 80% of the furloughed employee’s wages, capped at £2,500 a month. The grants, which must be paid over in full to the employee, are liable to tax and National Insurance as usual, and must be reported to HMRC as normal under Real Time Information. However, the employer can claim the associated employer’s National Insurance, together with minimum employer contributions where these are due under auto-enrolment, from the Government as part of the grant.

Employers can only claim a grant if the employee is furloughed for a minimum of three weeks. Employees are not currently allowed to undertake work for their employer while on furlough (although they can work for someone else if their contract allows).

Changes from August

Support provided under the scheme is to be withdrawn gradually. While the scheme will continue to be available for a further three months from 1 August, employers will have the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part time from that date. Employees will continue to receive 80% of their salary (capped at £2,500 a month), but employers will be required to meet some of the cost. The Government are to publish more details of how the scheme will operate from 1 August 2020 to 31 October 2020.


Guidance on the operation of the scheme can be found on the website. Speak to us to find out how you can use the scheme to help you maintain your workforce during the pandemic.

May 13, 2020

Expenses and benefits provided to employees during the COVID-19 pandemic

Expenses and benefits provided to employees during the COVID-19 pandemic

HMRC have recently published guidance for employers on how to treat certain expenses and benefits which may be provided to employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance is available on the website.

They have also relaxed the rules for a limited period where an employer reimburses an employee for the cost of equipment purchased to enable them to work from home.

Mileage costs

Particular issues can arise where an employer supports employees who are undertaking volunteer work during the pandemic, such as delivering prescriptions or PPE.

Volunteers driving a company car

If the employee has a company car and you refund the fuel costs where the car is used for volunteer duties using the advisory fuel rates, this will be a taxable benefit as the reimbursed mileage is not business mileage. If you wish to meet the tax and National Insurance on behalf of your employees, you can include it within a PAYE Settlement Agreement. If not, the reimbursement is taxable and liable to National Insurance.

If, as an employee, you pay for the petrol when undertaking volunteer duties using you company car, you are not able to claim tax relief as the expense is not incurred wholly, exclusively and necessary in the performance of your job.

Volunteers driving their own car

Where an employee undertakes volunteer driving using their own car and, as measure of support, you reimburse the cost using the approved mileage allowance rate, again, this will be taxable and liable to National Insurance. However, you can instead settle the associated liability on behalf of your employees by including it within a PAYE Settlement Agreement.

If the employee pays the mileage costs associated with volunteer driving, they cannot claim mileage allowance relief as the journeys are not business journeys.

Company car availability

During the lockdown many employees have been furloughed or are working from home. As a result, if they have a company car, they may be using it only rarely or not at all.

A taxable benefit arises in respect of the provision of a company car when that car is ‘available’ for private use – it does not matter whether the car is actually used or not, it is the ‘availability’ that triggers the tax charge. HMRC have confirmed that during the lockdown, a company car should still be treated as being ‘available for private use’, even if the employee has been:

  • instructed not to use the car;
  • asked to keep a record of the mileage to prove the car has not been used (i.e. photographs of the mileage at the start and end of the period); and
  • unable to return the car or arrange for its collection.

However, where it was not possible for the car to be handed back or collected as a result of the restrictions on movement, where the contract has been terminated, HMRC will accept that the car ceased to be available from the date that the keys (including tabs or fobs) are returned to the employer or relevant third party. If the contract has not been terminated, the car will be treated as unavailable after a period of 30 consecutive date from the date on which the keys have been returned. HMRC accept that where the employee no longer has access to the keys, they cannot drive the car, even if the car remains at their home.

The company car tax rules are strict and it important to appreciate the difference between a car being available for use and a car actually being used by the employee when it comes to calculating the taxable benefit.

Homeworking relaxations

An employee may have purchased office equipment to enable them to work at home. HMRC have, temporarily, relaxed the rules where the employer reimburses the cost. Under the normal rules, where an employee purchases a capital item, such as computer, to enable them to work from home, any reimbursement by the employer is taxable. Likewise, the employee is unable to claim tax relief.

However, where an employee has purchased equipment to work at home because of Coronavirus, if the employer reimburses the costs on or after 16 March 2020 and before the end of the 2020/21 tax year, the reimbursement will be tax-free. If the employee purchases equipment in this period and the cost is not met by the employer, the employee can claim a tax deduction, either on form P87 or via their self-assessment return. They should retain evidence of the expenditure

HMRC have also confirmed that employees can claim tax relief for additional household expenses of up to £6 per week (£26 per month) without the need for supporting evidence.

Other benefits

HMRC’s guidance also covers other benefits that may be provided to employees during the pandemic. We can help you ensure that these are provided in a tax-efficient manner.

May 1, 2020