HC Deb 28 March 1995 vol 257 cc558-9W
Dr. Spink

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to allow employers to opt out of the statutory sick pay scheme and what progress has been made towards simplifying the rules. [17205]

Mr. Lilley

I am issuing a consultation paper today which seeks views on allowing employers to opt out of the statutory sick pay scheme where their occupational sick pay schemes meet certain requirements. It would be in everyone's interest for sick pay arrangements to operate as simply and smoothly as possible.

Research carried out for the Department of Social Security in recent years shows that around 85 per cent. of employers make some form of short-term provision for sickness.

One of the main advantages for employers in opting out of SSP would be a reduction in the amount of records they are required to keep at present. They would no longer have to operate SSP rules and could keep simpler records of sickness absence, payments made to employees and transfers to state incapacity benefits.

Record keeping can be an administrative burden for every employer, not just for those with occupational sick pay schemes, so I am also seeking views on a significant reduction in the amount of mandatory records to be kept by all employers.

The proposals have been made by a working group of employers and payroll organisations which I set up to examine ways for cutting red tape in the SSP scheme.

The group has also identified a number of changes that would make the scheme simpler to understand and operate. It is now important to seek wider views including those of employee's representatives.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the group for the time they have given and the commitment they have shown in undertaking such a thorough review.

Copies of the consultation paper with the working group"s report have been placed in the Library. Comments are sought by 30 June.