CIPP response to consultation on SSP reform
01 October 2019
The CIPP has submitted its response to the DWP’s consultation document – Health is everyone’s business: proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss.
Despite record rates of employment, there remains a gap between the employment of disabled people compared with those who are non-disabled, and disabled people are twice as likely to fall out of work. The government believes that significant intervention is required to transform the lives of disabled people and people with long-term health conditions. Many people who are in work may also be managing one or more long-term health conditions which can affect their ability to remain in work. Some people leave work for health-related reasons, yet evidence shows that the right support from their employer could help them to stay in work.
To address this the government published a consultation document setting out proposals aiming to reduce ill health-related job loss. These included adapting the Statutory Sick Pay scheme to allow for phased return together with partial payment of SSP and pay during that period.
Our response provided a summary of quantitative results taken from our electronic survey gathering responses from CIPP members and other payroll tax professionals to the consultation questions. We also held a Think Tank roundtable on 20 August and our response incorporated qualitative results through the views and experiences shared by members in attendance.
This was a long consultation document containing 56 questions. In an effort to obtain as many views as possible, the CIPP survey reduced the number of questions and focussed solely on those issues most affecting payroll. Nevertheless, the lengthy consultation undoubtedly affected the response rate.
Summary of key findings
- 94% agree to some extent that employers have a role supporting employees with health conditions
- Whilst also expressing a note of caution, 66% of respondents agreed that a new right to request modifications on health grounds might be an effective way for employees to receive adjustments which would help them stay in work
- There was cautious agreement with the proposal for strengthened statutory guidance prompting employers to demonstrate that they have taken action to support employees back to work
- This guidance must be clear and well defined, both for employers and employees, and this will also be of value to HMRC when investigating disputes
- 64% of respondents believe that the current SSP system does not encourage employers to support an employee’s return to work
- Whilst some employers should undoubtedly do more to support their employees, considerations should also be given to how employees can themselves take action to ensure an effective return to work
- Respondents were wary of the suggestion to remove the need to identify specific Qualifying Days, with several respondents preferring that SSP be paid from day 1
- There is a broad agreement to the suggestion that SSP should be extended to those earning below the LEL, however, responses were mixed as to what that rate should be
- Half of the respondents do not believe that eligibility for SSP should be accrued over time
- When exploring options for SSP reform, consideration must be given to those employers outsourcing their payroll who may incur additional expense if payroll bureaux increase their charges due to increased complexity
- 65% of respondents agreed that the enforcement approach for SSP should mirror National Minimum Wage enforcement
- Respondents were largely in favour of a blanket SSP rebate similar to that in place for SMP, very few respondents favoured a rebate simply for those who go beyond their legal obligations.
Overall the response to the package of measures outlined in this consultation was positive but balanced by a note of caution around the burdens which may be introduced if the reforms are not carefully considered and managed. When considering how to take these measures forward DWP should be mindful of the additional burdens, both administrative and financial, especially to those who outsource their payroll.
It is likely that any changes will bring additional complexity to an already complex process, therefore continued stakeholder engagement along with clear, comprehensive and timely guidance will be essential.
The full consultation response is available to view on the CIPP Policy hub (go to My CIPP).
The responses to the survey are available to view here.
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