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Law for Business

Knowhow - guidance - precedents

29 JAN 2013

The Government's response to tackling long-term sickness absence


In a 2011 report, Health at work: an independent review of sickness absence, Dame Carol Black and David Frost CBE highlighted how the State spends £13 billion a year on health-related benefits and employers face an annual bill of around £9 billion for sick pay and associated costs.  They made a number of recommendations aimed at minimising absence from work due to ill health in order to reduce the associated burdens and costs on individuals, employers and the taxpayer. 

In its response to this, the government has accepted most of the recommendations including the introduction of a health and work assessment and advisory service from 2014.  This service will provide the following:

  • A state-funded assessment by occupational health professionals for employees who are off sick for four weeks or more. 
  • Ongoing case management support to help employees back to work.
  • Advice via a telephone and online service to employers and employees on overcoming the barriers preventing employees from returning to work.

In addition, the Government will:

  • Publish revised fit note guidance for GPs, employers and individuals which will emphasise the importance of assessing an individual's health condition in relation to work in general and not just for one specific role.
  • Abolish the SSP record keeping enabling employers to keep records in a more flexible manner which best suits their organisation.

Rachel Briggs

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