The Government is consulting on new rules for Statutory Sick Pay.
The Government has begun a consultation on plans to extend Statutory Sick Pay [SSP] to the lowest paid workers to help those with a disability or health condition remain in work.
SSP is currently only available to employees who earn an average of at least £118 per week. The consultation suggests making the SSP system more flexible. This includes amending the rules to enable an employee returning from a period of sickness absence to have a flexible, phased return to work. It also includes extending protection to those earning less than £118 per week and the possibility of increasing fines on employers who do not pay sick pay.
The consultation also includes plans to support small businesses financially when employees go on sick leave. They could be offered a sick pay rebate as a reward for effectively managing employees on sick leave and help them get back to work. Other provisions include better advice and support for employers and improving access to cost-effective occupational health services for employers.
The Government says that every year more than 100,000 people leave their job following a period of sickness absence lasting at least four weeks. The longer somebody is on sickness absence the more likely they are to fall out of work, with 44% of people who had been off sick for a year then leaving employment altogether, according to the statistics.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd said: “Businesses and health providers will be asked for their views on how to remove the barriers in the current system which stop employers from taking action, with small employers expected to need the most support.
“The majority of small employers reported a lack of time and capital to invest in support as the key issues.”
The Government will also consider whether to change legal guidance to encourage employers to intervene early during a period of sickness absence.