Government Abolishes the Sick Pay Reclaim Scheme

The Government's decision to abolish, with effect from 6 April 2014, the statutory sick pay (SSP) percentage threshold scheme, whereby employers could, in certain circumstances, reclaim SSP paid to employees absent through ill health, will have a particular impact on smaller businesses with staff on long-term sick leave.

One reason given for dropping the scheme was that it provided a disincentive for employers to actively manage sickness absence. The Government plans to invest the estimated £50 million saving it will achieve as a result in the new Health and Work Service, which will provide free occupational health assistance to employees, employers and GPs. Under the new regime, once an employee has reached, or is expected to reach, four weeks' sickness absence, he or she will normally be referred by their GP for an assessment by an occupational health professional, who will look at all the issues preventing the employee from returning to work and provide them with a plan to try to expedite their return. However, trials of the new service will not commence until later this year with full implementation likely in 2015.

The 14th edition of the Absence Management survey report, which is produced by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in conjunction with healthcare provider Simplyhealth, found that in 2013 stress was again one of the most common causes of long-term absence from work. It is therefore vital that employers do not ignore the issue but take positive steps to provide a working environment in which the sort of pressures that can have an adverse effect on employees are minimised.

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