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Consultation on ill health related job loss and reform of statutory sick pay

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Health and Social Care have launched a consultation putting forward a package of measures which encourage early and supportive action by employers for their employees with health conditions.

There are several aspects which will have important implications for employers, if they are pursued in due course. Amongst these are a potential:

  • New right to request work(place) modifications for employees not covered under the current Equality Act duty to make reasonable adjustments provisions.

  • Strengthening of statutory guidance for employers to encourage them to take early, sustained and proportionate steps to support a sick employee to return to work, before that employee can be fairly dismissed on the grounds of ill health affecting their capability.

  • Reform of Statutory Sick Pay to simplify current provision:

  • allow for flexibility during a period of return to work following sickness absence;

  • widen eligibility to those currently below the lower earnings limit and

  • strengthen compliance and enforcement, possibly in a similar way to enforcement of NMW.

  • Improvement in employers’ and self-employed people’s access to good advice and support, ensuring that all employers understand and are able to act on their responsibilities to their employees.

  • Addition to the planned day one written statement of terms for all (from 2020) of information regarding sick pay eligibility and access to leave;

  • Redesigning of SSP rebates for SMEs;

  • Increase in access of SMEs to OH services, whether in how these are delivered or through the provision of financial support;

  • Introduction of automatic reporting of sickness absence through payroll systems (so that government has the data to be able to provide timely and targeted guidance to employers on how to manage sickness absence).

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