Sick pay changes could act as incentive to malingerers, warns BCC

Government proposals to scrap the three waiting days rule before employees are entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) could increase the number of sick days taken by people who are not genuinely unwell, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) warned today.

Businesses are currently not required to pay SSP until the fourth consecutive day of an employee’s absence. However, under proposals in the Welfare Reform Green Paper the three-day waiting rule would be scrapped and employers would have to pay SSP from an employee’s first day of absence.

The consultation period for the Green Paper ends today. The BCC said in its response that scrapping the three-day waiting rule contradicted the government’s stated aim in the Green Paper of simplifying absence management for businesses.

David Frost, the BCC’s director-general, said giving all employees the right to SSP from day one would create a perverse incentive for individuals to take occasional sick days.

“For small businesses, the government’s proposals would make absence management more difficult,” he said.

“The proposal has been dressed up as a simplification measure, but it merely tinkers with the current regulations and leaves many of the fundamental complexities in place,” Frost said. “The government is in danger of missing a golden opportunity to achieve real simplification of SSP.”

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