First steps to the government’s new sickness absence regime

With the latest 2014 figures suggesting that workers in the UK take in excess of 130 million days’ sickness absence per year, it appears this may be the year in which the government finally follows through with long-discussed reforms to significantly reduce absence levels.

The first step towards change takes place next month, with the ending of the Percentage Threshold Scheme from 6 April 2014, a scheme that allows employers with higher-than-average levels of sickness absence to recover a percentage of statutory sick pay from HMRC.

However, the centrepiece of a new ‘proactive’ regime is an independent health assessment service, which is expected to be operational from the end of 2014. In cost and aspiration, the implications of this new service are significant. For employers too, the changes look set to herald a new era, placing far greater emphasis and, moreover, responsibility on the employer to facilitate a return to work for those on sick leave…

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