Justin Tomlinson: What are the ramifications of the DWP’s sick pay consultation?

When we are not helping those people who want to work stay in employment, everyone loses out. That is why we at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are consulting on how to create healthier workplaces by supporting more employers to help disabled people and those with health conditions to thrive in work.

Under our proposals, small businesses and self-employed people in particular will benefit from improved, clearer guidance. The changes would see Britain’s lowest-paid employees become eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) for the first time, with small businesses potentially being offered a rebate for effectively managing employees on sick leave and helping them back into work.

Other potential measures include encouraging early action by employers to support individuals when they are off work, facilitating more workplace modifications, improving the availability of occupational health services and upgrading advice so that employers are able to act to support employees.

While the government can create the right conditions for success through policy change, early intervention by employers is vital. Employers play a key role in recognising issues people may be having and intervening quickly; the right support from an employer can make all the difference to an employee staying in work rather than leaving employment entirely.

Employers and government must work together to support people to stay in work. Good work is good for people’s health, with individuals in employment reporting higher levels of wellbeing than those out of work. More people in work is good for the economy and has the potential to reduce the demand on the NHS, helping us all.

Justin Tomlinson is minister for disabled people at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)