Until last week employers were able to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from the Government where the cost exceeded 13% of their Class 1 National Insurance contributions, calculated on a monthly basis. However, as of 6 April 2014, the Percentage Threshold Scheme will no longer apply and employers will now be unable to recover SSP paid to their employees. Employers will, however, have until the end of 2015/16 to recover SSP under the scheme for the year 2013/14.
Where an employee with over 26 weeks’ service with their employer is off work as a result of sickness or injury, they will normally be entitled to receive SSP provided they meet a minimum earnings threshold. The current rate of SSP is £87.55 per week and is payable to eligible employees for up to 28 weeks of absence. Although the statutory entitlements are not particularly high, the ability to recoup these amounts has been helpful, particularly to smaller employers, especially if they have had more than one employee off work at any given time.
The Percentage Threshold Scheme is being abolished because the Government does not believe that it has encouraged employers to manage sickness absence in the workplace effectively. Instead, there are proposals to introduce a new Health and Work Service in 2015 which will aim to assist employers to facilitate a quicker return to work for employees on long term sickness absence and promote a more proactive approach. Under the Scheme, employers and employees will be able to benefit from Government funded Occupational Health Assessments for employees who are on sick leave for 4 weeks or longer. Employees will then receive a return to work plan with recommendations to help them to return to work more quickly. There will also be a telephone advice service introduced for employers, employees and GPs to help make the whole process easier to manage.