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Health is everyone’s business: new government proposals regarding sickness absence and statutory sick pay

19 July 2019 #Other

Around 100,000 people in the UK every year leave work completely after a sickness absence and 44% of people who are off work for a year or more because of illness do not return to the workplace.

This week the government has opened consultations on its proposed package of measures intended to reduce ill health-related job loss.

The proposals include:

  • allowing statutory sick pay (SSP) to continue during phased returns to work
  • extending eligibility for SSP to those earning below the current minimum threshold of £118 per week. Two million part-time workers currently earn less than this
  • strengthening compliance and enforcement of SSP. This could include active enforcement and 200% penalties in line with enforcement of National Minimum Wage
  • a rebate of SSP for SMEs
  • statutory guidance to employers to take “early, proportionate and reasonable steps to support an employee to return to work, before dismissing them on health grounds”
  • a right for employees to request modifications to the workplace on health grounds

The government hopes these proposals will also encourage more people with disabilities and long-term conditions back into work.

For all employers, it is worth taking proactive steps regarding employee health and well-being because it increases employee welfare, productivity and retention of skilled and experienced staff. Government initiatives that support employers’ efforts to support employees experiencing mental or physical ill-health are to be welcomed.

For businesses that have a view on the specifics of the proposals, the deadline for responding to the consultation is 7 October 2019.

For assistance on dealing with sickness absence and supporting employees experiencing health problems, please contact one of our employment advisers.


This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking professional and legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.


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Russell Dann

Russell Dann

E: rdann@clarkslegal.com
T: 0118 960 4653
M: 0792 014 4165