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Blog  »  January 2015
16
Jan 15

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Fit for Work Service

Fit for Work Service (FFWS) is a new free government service, introduced with the intention of helping UK workplaces manage sickness absences. The Fit for Work scheme provides an occupational health assessment and general health and work advice to employees, employers and GPs.

Assessments

When an employee has reached, or is expected to reach four weeks of absence through sickness, the GP will refer them to the FFWS. Employers can also make the referral after four weeks of absence.

All referrals will be at the consent of the employee. If the employee refuses to attend, the GP may stop issuing the Fit Note. The consequence of this is that without the Fit Note, the employer is unable to pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

On attending for assessment the employee will be given a return to work plan, with recommendations on how they can return to the workplace quickly.

Advice

The FFWS will offer free, “independent objective” advice to GPs, employees and employers on how to prevent sickness absences occurring, and how to assist employees returning to the workplace when absences do occur. This advice service will be accessible via telephone and online services.

Tax Exemptions

From 1st January 2015, the Government is also introducing a tax exemption of up to £500 (per year, per employee) on medical treatments recommended by the FFWS to help their employees return to work.

General Advice

Both services have been designed to compliment rather than replace existing occupational health service schemes. However, the service will be particularly beneficial to smaller organisations that are likely to have limited existing occupational health services in place. The service is being rolled out across the UK throughout 2015 and further details are expected during the year. In the meantime, employers are recommended to update their sickness absence policies to reflect the availability of Fit for Work.

Bright Contracts – Employment Contracts and Handbooks.
BrightPay – Payroll & Auto Enrolment Software.

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Sick Leave/Absence Management

14
Jan 15

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Shared Parental Leave, how to avoid discrimination claims from male employees

Do you currently offer enhanced maternity pay to women on maternity leave, i.e. amounts over statutory maternity pay? If yes, you will need to consider whether or not to offer enhanced shared parental pay.

Historically, offering enhanced maternity pay did not amount to unlawful discrimination because women were granted special protection in their biological position as a mother, therefore justifying different treatment and pay. However how valid this argument will be going forward is questionable. Once parents opt to share statutory parental leave, it could be difficult to that argue that the mother has a protected biological position. This may present a discrimination risk for employers who do not offer the same enhanced maternity pay to fathers taking shared parental leave.

To date all guidance issued by the Government has ignored this issued. They have taken the stance that as enhanced payments are not imposed by legislation they will not be commenting on the issue. Consequently, employers looking to stay within the law on this issue will have to await guidance from tribunal decisions.

In the meantime the advice to employers who pay enhance maternity pay is to review all related policies and procedures. When implementing changes, possible considerations might include:

• To provide an enhanced maternity scheme and a separate shared parental pay scheme in tandem, but advise that parents who opt for shared parental leave are not eligible for enhanced maternity pay;
• To reduce enhanced maternity payments to the statutory level
• To offer an equivalent enhanced shared parental leave pay scheme that applies to parents of either gender, although the most expensive option this may well be the safest option available to employers.

This is a complex issue and one where what is correct, may well depend on the business needs and other factors, such as the gender demographics of individual workforces. Being such a grey area employers are well advised to be cautious when making any decisions.

Bright Contracts – Employment Contracts and Handbooks.
BrightPay – Payroll & Auto Enrolment Software.

Posted in Parental Leave

9
Jan 15

Posted by
Laura Murphy

5 New Years Resolutions every Small Business should make for an easier 2015.

1. I will make sure all employees have an up-to-date written contract of employment

2. I will review our staff handbook and make sure it is relevant and up-to-date

3. I will make sure the business is ready for new parental leave arrangements, and changes to adoption leave

4. I will check our companies staging date, if it falls in 2015 I will make sure we are ready

5. I will review our absence policies and procedures, to ensure I can easily spot when absences become an issue and manage them appropriately and fairly. I will prepare for the Fit for Work Service programme which is to become mandatory.

Bright Contracts – Employment Contracts and Handbooks.
BrightPay – Payroll & Auto Enrolment Software.

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment

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