With effect from 6th April 2014, it will no longer be possible for employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from the government. See link to the statutory instrument.
Prior to 6 April 2014 employers could reclaim SSP exceeded 13% of its national insurance contributions in the month. The rationale for abolishing it is because the government felt that it gave employers an incentive not to encourage long-term sick employees to return to the workplace.
The money saved (estimated to be £50m a year) is intended to help fund the introduction of a new Health and Work Service which will offer voluntary medical assessments and treatment plans for employees (although this is unlikely to be fully operational until 2015) which will help employees and employers put together plans to facilitate a return to work. Such a service can be a valuable. However if it is not done right it can be a waste of time and effort. I regularly talk to employers who are frustrated that the Occupational Health (OH) reports they receive offer little in the way of independent or useful advice on how to get the employee back to work. The key will be to ask the right questions and to work closely with Health and Work Service to come up with a return-to-work plan. It remains to be seen whether the Health and Work Service will be in a position to do deliver such a service given that it will provide a largely telephone-based assessment.
Employers may wish to bear in mind the impact of this change when reviewing internal policies that provide more generous sick pay than at the statutory rate.