Statutory Sick Pay compensation can no longer be reclaimed from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

This is due to the abolition of the Percentage Threshold Scheme (PTS), which was introduced to protect businesses with above average rates of sickness absence. The scheme was scrapped after an independent review found it did not encourage employers to manage sickness absence proactively.

Employers are now unable to recover SSP, but they can pick up unclaimed SSP for previous years for a limited period. 

Where will PTS funding go?

In a bid to tackle absence more effectively, the UK government will introduce the Health and Work Service. It will use the money from the PTS scheme and will be run by the private sector. Ministers hope the scheme's increased effectiveness will allow employers to save more money overall by having fewer staff absent.

How will the Health and Work Service work?

The Health and Work Service will provide advice and support to employers who have staff members with sickness absence over 4 weeks. It will provide a tailored return-to-work plan, but other specifications are still being developed. The work presents an excellent business opportunity for in-house NHS occupational health services to be involved in helping to deliver face-to-face health assessments in their local area.

NHS Employers, which is part of the NHS Confederation, explained plans for the service delivery model. It is hoped that a partial roll-out two regions will take place in October 2014 ahead of a full roll-out in April 2015. 

Referral volumes are expected in the region of 350,000 to 700,000 per annum. Of these, between five and ten per cent are anticipated to require a face-to-face assessment. The rest will be carried out via a telephone assessment.

A tax exemption of up to £500 a year is available for each employee on medical treatments approved by the Health and Work Service or an occupational health service suggested by the employer.

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