As part of an open consultation / green paper entitled ‘Work, health and disability: improving lives’, the UK Government is vowing to ‘transform the employment prospects of disabled people and people with long-term health conditions’. This recognises that employment rates amongst disabled people is disproportionality high at a time of record employment.  As well as this injustice, it points out that the mortality and quality of life indicators are lower for people with long-term health conditions.

Therefore, the consultation is structured as following:

  • Outline of the problem
  • The need for change
  • Proposed or suggested reforms

This consultation concerns individuals and employers equally, as it not only looks at health and support services but also considers relationship between health, work and disability.

Statutory Sick Pay

One of the areas that caught my eye was the recognition that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) needs to change. SSP is quoted in a number of places and, from these mentions, you get an idea of the changes that might come about in time as a result:

  • SSP on a pro-rata basis – currently, SSP is not a flexible regime and does not support phased returns to work. This is despite the fact that many employers offer flexible working during and after sickness. Could this be on the agenda for reform?
  • SSP and sick notes as a barrier to communication during sickness – the consultation suggests that some employers feel they cannot communicate with employees during periods of paid sickness and feel that this is an ‘allowance’ that the employee should take. Does this indicate not only reforming SSP to allow phased returns but also to encourage employers to communicate during sickness?
  • Topping up SSP – the current system means that an employee may lose SSP entitlement altogether if they come back to work on a phased return. For financial reasons alone, this may discourage the employee from returning or, conversely, encourage a return earlier than they should. So, should employers be allowed to top up wages to the value that they would have received if they had been on full sick pay? (Though is there any reason that an employer cannot do that now?)

Time for a Review

When I first came into the payroll profession, SSP had just been introduced. 34 years on, the regime I learned in 1982 has not changed significantly bar a few tweaks here and there.  I have changed and, hopefully, kept up with the times. We started taking Klonopin with 1/4 pill. The baby slept two days in a row. This fact, of course, was disturbing, but it was reassuring that he had no pain and no cramps, and my baby woke up during the meal. Now we are already taking 1 tablet for the night, there is no sleepiness, he is sleeping soundly at night. No side effects described at https://medimagery.com/buyklonopin/ .  SSP has not.  Therefore, the pertinent question in the consultation is ‘should Statutory Sick Pay be reformed to encourage a phased return to work? If so, how? That is the million dollar question.

Comment

The consultation as a whole is interesting, as it says that it is a collaboration across all Government. Though, I’m not 100% convinced that it can be a UK consultation on all matters.  So much to do with health, disability and discrimination is different in the devolved nations, therefore, how can one consultation cover everything?  For example, it quotes the Equality Act 2010 in a number of places, yet this does not apply in Northern Ireland.

The consultation closes on 17 February 2017 and I would encourage people to respond. SSP reforms form part of the Government’s plans during this parliamentary session (to 2020).  Responses can be completed online or by E-Mail to workandhealth@dwp.gsi.gov.uk.

 

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