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Am I bound to offer a new employee the same sick pay benefit as current employees or can I just pay SSP?


3 September 2011

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Question in full:

I am about to employ a new cleaner in addition to the one I already employ. My current cleaner's contract states she is entitled to company sick pay in line with the rest of the practice staff. 

Am I bound to offer the new employee the same benefit or can I just pay SSP should she go sick?
 

Question in full:

I am about to employ a new cleaner in addition to the one I already employ. My current cleaner's contract states she is entitled to company sick pay in line with the rest of the practice staff. 

Am I bound to offer the new employee the same benefit or can I just pay SSP should she go sick?
 

A: If it is the case that the exclusion is intended to apply to all newly recruited cleaners from this point onwards, then in principle, there is no reason why you cannot exclude the new cleaner from the company sick pay scheme.

However, given that the rest of your employees are contractually entitled to company sick pay and this new member of staff will currently be the only one to be excluded from that benefit, you should be aware that there is a risk that she may raise an allegation of discrimination. You should therefore ensure that you are in a position to defend the practice against any such allegation.

To defend an allegation of discrimination on this basis, you will need to be able to demonstrate that there is a genuine reason why this benefit has been removed and that the removal of the benefit is not intended to apply solely to this one individual, but will apply to all other cleaners recruited by the practice going forward.

An effective way of doing this would be to document your reasons for this decision, either within a policy, or as a document on an HR file. Should any such allegations arise, you will then be able to show that this change in policy is not intended to affect just this one individual, but will also apply to all cleaning staff recruited in the future and is therefore not discriminatory.

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