Firms have been urged to tighten up their sickness and absence procedures with the abolition of a relief scheme originally designed to compensate employers for sickness absence.
Businesses have lost the right to reclaim statutory sick pay under the percentage threshold scheme. Under the scheme, employers could claim back the cost of SSP paid out to workers if it exceeded 13% of their National Insurance contributions for the period. The initiative was designed as a disaster relief scheme for employers struggling to cope with higher than average sickness absence.
Now the Department of Work and Pensions is ending the scheme after a review commissioned by the government into sickness absence showed it has not encouraged employers to manage sickness absence in the workplace.
Hilary Garnett, partner in commercial litigation and employment law at Huddersfield law firm Baxter Caulfield, said the move could seriously undermine the progress made by SMEs at a time when the economic recovery is still not guaranteed and could even lead to the failure of some firms due to the financial burden caused by long-term sickness absence.
She said: “I would strongly urge SMEs to review and potentially tighten their absence and sickness procedures to militate against the end of the relief scheme,.
“Employers should ensure that they have in place a clearly worded sickness absence policy.”
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