A new consultation launched jointly by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health and Social Care, is seeking views on different ways in which both the Government and employers can take action to reduce ill health-related job loss.
The consultation is examining a number of specific proposals including:
- Reforming Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) so that it is better enforced, more flexible and covers the lowest paid employees. This would extend SSP protection to around 2 million low-paid employees.
- Offering more support to employees with health issues affecting their work.
- Refining occupational health provision especially for small employers and self-employed people.
- Improving employers’ and self-employed people’s access to good advice and support.
The consultation is also examining how a rebate of SSP for SMEs could better help support small businesses, who effectively manage employees on sickness absence and help get them back to work. For example, changing shift patterns for employees can have a big effect.
Research has shown, that each year more than 100,000 people leave their job following a period of sickness absence lasting at least 4 weeks. The longer an employee is out of work on sickness leave, the less likely they are to return to employment and this can also result in further health deterioration.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd said:
'I want Britain to be an environment where disabled people and those with health conditions can thrive, not just survive – not only in work but every area of their lives. Good work is good for our mental and physical health, and by working closely with employers we can help prevent the loss of talent when people unnecessarily leave the workplace.'
The consultation is open for comment until 7 October 2019 and it will be interesting to see what new proposals will be put forward.