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he Health and Work Service: A Silver-Lining to the Removal of an Employer’s right?

Fiona Hume, Astle Paterson’s Employment Law specialist, discusses the removal of an Employer’s right to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay.

Fiona notes that “On 6th April the law changed so employers are no longer able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (“SSP”) from the Government.

Under the Percentage Threshold Scheme employers could reclaim any amount of SSP which exceeded 13% of their National Insurance contributions in the month.  The Government believes the system was flawed, as it did not give Employers an incentive to encourage Employees – who were absent due to long-term sickness – to return to the workplace.”

Fiona continues “Rather than fund the SSP payments, the money saved will now be used to finance a new Government initiative, the Health and Work Service, which is being promoted to save Employers money by helping sick employees return to work more swift.

The Health and Work Service is likely to start in late 2014 and will provide free Occupational Health Assessments for Employees who are off sick for four weeks or more.  With an Employee’s agreement, the Employee is referred by their G.P. for an occupational health assessment. Following this assessment a return to work programme is then provided.

The Health and Work Service will be backed by a Website and a phone Helpline that will give information and advice to Employees, Employers and G.P.’s to advise them in how to help people with a health condition to stay in or return to work.”

Fiona concludes “We will need to wait to see if there is an expectation that Employees will have to use the Government funded Health and Work Service.  Although the service is supposed to be impartial it remains to be seen whether it will take account of an Employer’s viewpoint when advising on a return to work or will favour an Employee.

There may also be other issues, such as whether an Employer – who fails to follow the Service’s recommendations – can be found to have Unfairly Dismissed their Employee.

Matters will, of course, become clearer once the Health and Work Service has been introduced and has had time to bed-in.”

Please contact Fiona Hume of Astle Paterson (Solicitors in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire) on 01283 531366 or by way of email to fhume@astlepaterson.co.uk.

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