Britain appears to be facing a sick leave epidemic as almost one million employees were away from work due to sickness for one month or more during the three-year period ending September 2013. The government has decided to launch a new Health and Work Service to overcome this problem. It has already taken necessary steps to get those on long-term sick benefits back to work. This has revealed that almost one million individuals who had put in claims were actually fit to work and almost 250,000 have been removed off incapacity benefits.
The government is prepared to offer support to businesses to stop sickness from becoming long-term dependency on welfare. To achieve this, it has set up a new support service for both employees and employers.
The service that is being launched will offer employee case management and occupational health assessment. General practitioners will have the opportunity to refer employees to undergo assessment if they have been, or are expected to be, absent from work for a period of four weeks, due to illness. It will also be possible for employers to refer employees for assessment.
The occupational health assessment will include identification of the issues which are preventing the employee from returning to work. A plan will be devised for the employee, employer and general practitioner, along with a recommendation as to how the employee can be helped to allow him or her to return to work quickly.
This plan will include advice about fitness for work, a timetable related to the time frame to return to work and details about available assistance programmes.
Employees will receive support throughout their involvement with the service. This will allow them to return to work as soon as they can. An advice service will be available online and telephonically for those who need it.
The government is hoping that this new plan will get people back to work. The success of the service means that more people will have a job, the absentee cost for businesses will decrease and Britain’s economic future will be greatly improved.
Image credit: Claus Rebler