Sickness absence system to be reviewed

The Government has announced that the current employee sickness absence system is to be subject to a comprehensive review.

As part of speech launching the new Welfare Reform Bill, the Prime Minister, David Cameron said that the remit of the review will be to examine how the system can be reformed so that more people can be helped to stay in work and costs for employers can be reduced.

Due to report later this year, the review will also examine whether the balance of the costs of sick leave is appropriately shared between individuals, employers and the state.

It has been briefed, too, on making sure that any recommendations are consistent with promoting private-sector growth and minimising the burdens on business, especially SMEs.

The review will be fed into the wider Employment Law Review, which is looking at measures to reduce red tape and remove the burdens on business.

Employment Relations Minister, Edward Davey said: “This is an important review which will help tackle the problems faced by business and individuals. Managing sickness absence more effectively will be a win-win situation for all – businesses, individuals, the taxpayer and crucially, the economy. It could improve productivity, boost growth and mean that many more people no longer have to rely on taxpayer handouts.”

David Frost, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce and joint chair of the review, added: “Sickness absence undoubtedly has a huge impact on businesses – particularly on smaller firms that struggle with the processes and procedures required, not to mention the direct costs involved.

“The private sector must focus on growth if we are to sustain the recovery, so it is right that the Government has chosen to look at ways to reduce sickness absence in the workplace and get people back into employment.”

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