Last reviewed 7 January 2022

The Government has reintroduced the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS) amid increasing staff absence due to the Omicron variant.

This will be a temporary scheme to support employers facing heightened levels of sickness absence due to Covid-19. Small and medium-sized early years settings with fewer than 250 employees are eligible for the scheme and will be reimbursed for the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for up to two weeks per employee.

Employers can claim for Covid-related sickness absences occurring from 21 December 2021 onwards and will be able to make a claim through HMRC from mid-January onwards. The guidance will be reviewed later this month.

The scheme was part of a range of measures announced by the Government to support businesses. Although the sector welcomed the news about the reintroduction of the SSPRS, it has raised concerns that early years providers have been excluded from new grants of up to £6000 which are aimed at businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said:

“We are concerned to see yet again, early years providers are falling through large holes in government support schemes on offer to both the education sector, and to businesses.

“Not only are these latest grants focused on leisure, retail, hospitality and culture, the Government has declined to include pre-schools and nurseries in the extended business rates holiday.

“If we are to come out of this pandemic, and indeed this winter wave, with our fantastic early years sector still intact, providers must be properly supported — financially and practically, and as both businesses and essential education settings — to ensure they can continue to deliver the early education and care that children need and families rely on.”

Further information on Covid-19 economic support package is available here.