§ 3. Mr. Henderson
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress is being made towards the introduction of the new statutory sick pay scheme.
§ The Minister for Social Security (Mr. Hugh Rossi)
The statutory sick pay scheme will be introduced on 6 April. In preparation for it, all employers have received copies of an "Employers' Guide" and the further information contained in the national insurance contribution tables which were recently sent out to them. This effort has been supplemented by an advertising campaign and by help provided by officials who have given seminars and general advice.
§ Mr. Henderson
What reassurances has my hon. Friend given to those small business men who expressed anxieties about the scheme? What savings does he expect from the scheme in terms of the number of staff employed and the costs?
§ Mr. Rossi
We estimate that the scheme will save about 3,000 civil servants and up to £90 million on the public sector borrowing requirement. We are giving small businesses all the help we can and we have tried to make the paper work as simple as possible for them. We shall remind those who have been in the habit—as many of them have—of paying employees who are sick for a short time their ordinary pay that they will be able to recoup statutory sick pay in future.
§ Mr. Rooker
Will the Minister confirm that he still has the support of small businesses for the introduction of the scheme, as the Government claimed on Second Reading of the Bill? Has he received any requests from small businesses to exclude them from the operation of the Act?
§ Mr. Rossi
Many small businesses have given us their support, as have the small business organisations. We have gone a long way towards meeting their requests in matters of detail. Obviously, many small business men have not studied the issue in detail and are worried, as anyone would be, by prospective change. However, their fears are exaggerated. Once they become used to the working of the scheme it will become second nature to them.