§ Mr. Ashdown
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many cases of non-compliance or difficulties in administering the statutory sick pay scheme have been registered by his Department since the scheme's inception; and how many of those cases were from small businesses.
§ Dr. Boyson
Officials from the Department's local offices around the country are carrying out a programme of visits to all known employers in their areas, during which they check a sample of cases of payment of statutory sick pay and give guidance on the operation of the scheme. Of about 180,000 individual cases of payment checked so far, 16 per cent were subject to error resulting in an over — or underpayment. The corresponding figures for businesses employing fewer than six people are about 26,000 cases checked and 21 per cent erroneous payment.
However, the errors made have usually been minor in effect and the visit from the Department is normally all that is needed to clear up the misunderstanding. An improvement in performance can be expected once the scheme has settled in and the rules become more familiar. We are satisfied that the scheme has made a good start and that employers generally are managing well.