Flexible SSP – what did you say?

08 May 2018

Thank you to all those who took the time to respond to our survey on the government’s plans to introduce a more flexible system of statutory sick pay.

The government pledged there would be a consultation in their response to the 2016 green paper ‘Improving Lives - The Future of Work, Health and Disability’

The government said they “want to see a reformed SSP system which supports more flexible working … to help support phased returns to work including spacing out working days during a return to work, managing a long-term health condition, or recovering from illness.”

The government also pledged to:

  • Improve and better publicise existing guidance on SSP eligibility to ensure that employers and employees each understand their rights and responsibilities

  • Consider Matthew Taylor’s recommendations about SSP eligibility and the way entitlement is accrued and about sickness absence management

We published a survey at the end of March which ran for a month, to try and gather some early thoughts and opinions together with case studies in advance of the consultation promised later in the year. To follow is a summary of our findings through the responses from our members and the wider payroll profession.

  • There was a range of numbers on the payroll from respondents but the majority were between 250 and 9,999

  • 89% offer both SSP and OSP schemes with differing options depending on their terms and conditions

  • 87% offer an initial return to work on altered hours (phased return) after a period of sickness. 77% of which said that each case is looked at on an individual basis and that they have no set timescale for employees to be off before the phased return is offered

  • With regards to how employers pay their staff on a return to work after a period of sickness on altered hours, 49% only pay for the hours worked, whereas it was almost evenly split where some employers pay full pay regardless of hours worked and the others pay for hours worked, topped up with OSP or SSP.

  • We asked what respondents thought they would need to do or to adapt their payroll systems and processes to accommodate employees returning to work on altered hours and paid a mixture of OSP & SSP. Responses were that software would need to be adapted/updated, if the change was to legislation then staff would need to be educated and more manual intervention would be required

  • Some respondents did say that they felt little or no change would be required

  • We asked how long it would take to implement these changes and the answers varied as it would depend on who and what it affects. If legislation was changed then this would a decent lead time for software developers, then there is the implementation, training, educating etc

  • The cost of these changes is varied or not applicable. It may be that some of the respondents may not be involved in the ‘cost implications’ of the business so would be unable to answer and also what the changes will actually be is difficult to say at this stage

  • We also asked what the overall cost of sickness management change would be if flexible returns were offered. The majority stated that they offer this service in some form already, others believe it will not affect the cost and only a minority felt it would be expensive

  • From additional comments to the survey, it would seem that the way forward is a total rethink of the SSP system and that the waiting days should be abolished

CIPP comment

We have passed on the full results of our survey to the Department for Work and Pensions, who are leading on these reforms and we shall continue to work with them through to consultation and change, in whatever form that may be. We will most certainly be calling on you again for your expertise and opinions.