SSP consultation and the proposals

Man sitting on the sofa ill and off work

The government has started a consultation to transform support for sick and disabled staff and remove barriers for employers. This could potentially mean that 2 million low-paid workers could receive statutory sick pay for the first time.

 

What is the eligibility criteria currently?

Currently, to be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), you must:

  • be classed as an employee and have done some work for your employer
  • have been ill for at least 4 days in a row (including non-working days)
  • earn an average of at least £118 per week
  • tell your employer you’re sick before their deadline – or within 7 days if they do not have one

It is also worth noting that Agency workers are also entitled to Statutory Sick Pay.

 

What are the proposed changes?

The Department for Work and Pensions state that under the proposed new measures the lowest-paid employees would be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay for the first time.

The consultation will be seeking views on different ways in which government and employers can take action to reduce ill health-related job loss. The Department for Work and Pensions have found that disabled people and those with long-term health conditions are at greater risk of falling out of work.

Each year more than 100,000 people leave their job following a period of sickness absence lasting at least 4 weeks, new figures show.

The consultation will look at making the Statutory Sick Pay system more flexible. It will explore the option of allowing a phased return to work while still receiving SSP. However, the government also recognises that smaller employers may require additional support to help them meet their legal obligations. Therefore the consultation will consider how a rebate of SSP, targeted at small and medium enterprises (SMEs), might work to support more significant employer action in helping their employees to return to work.

Currently, under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a duty to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled employees. However, some employees may be missing out on support from the company they work for because they don’t meet the definition of disabled. That’s why the government will be considering whether to introduce a new right to request work(place) modifications on health grounds that would empower those employees who are not currently covered by the reasonable adjustments duty to access the support they need from their employer.

In cases where employers fail to pay SSP where it is due, the government will consider whether they should increase fines on employers. The consultation will also look at whether enforcement of SSP should be included within the remit of a proposed new, single labour market enforcement body.

 

Working with businesses

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.

 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

“Too many still face challenges returning to work after sick leave. We need to remove the barriers that stop people with disabilities or health conditions from reaching their full potential – these steps will help us achieve that.

Businesses will also benefit from being able to retain talent, and build workplaces that support the physical and mental health needs of their employees.”

 

The consultation will also look at how to improve the capacity, value and quality of occupational health services and consider how to reduce the high costs, particularly for smaller employers.

The government wants to ensure all employers can access good advice and support so they understand and can act on their responsibilities to employees.

You can read the proposal in full on the gov.uk website.

 

Have your say

The consultation closes at 11:45pm on 7 October 2019. You can take part on the Department for Work and Pensions website here by completing an online survey.

Further information

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