Since 6 April 2014, employers can no longer reclaim statutory sick pay (SSP) from the UK Government. Previously, they had been able to reclaim any amount of SSP paid in a particular month which exceeded 13% of their National Insurance contributions in that month. This tended to benefit small businesses and companies with higher than average sickness absences among their staff.

The reason for the change is that the Government felt the previous position gave employers an incentive not to encourage their employees to return to work. The Government intends to invest the money saved into the new Health & Work Service, a Governmental body due to be established in 2015 with the aim of helping employers and employees manage sickness absence effectively. It is expected that the Health & Work Service will provide free Occupational Health Assessments for employees on sick leave, as well as a website and helpline giving information and advice on sickness absence.

Only time will tell whether the new Health & Work Service will help in the management of sickness absence or whether it will simply add an additional layer of bureaucracy for employers. In the meantime, the fact that employers are now wholly responsible for funding SSP is likely to be unwelcome news.