Government Funded Occupational Health Service to go live in 2015

The Health & Work Service is a government funded occupational health service due to go live in April 2015 (with roll-out from late 2014). The service is part of the government’s long-term economic plan to help employees and employers in managing sickness absence and was one of Dame Carol Black’s recommendations when she conducted a major review of sickness absence in 2011.

Employees who are on sick leave for four weeks or more will be provided with an occupational health assessment, which they will normally be referred to by their GPs. A resulting return to work plan will be shared with their employer and GP. Furthermore, general health and work advice will be available to GPs, employers and employees via telephone and a website.

The Health and Work Service is expected to be funded through the abolition of the percentage threshold scheme, which enabled employers to reclaim statutory sick pay where the total statutory sick pay paid in a month exceeded 13% of the employer’s Class 1 National Insurance Contributions for that month.

The contract for the Health and Work Service for England and Wales has been awarded to Maximus who are one of the largest occupational health providers in the UK.

Government figures suggest that approximately 960,000 employees were on sick leave for a month or more each year on average between September 2010 and October 2013. It is hoped that the Health and Work Service will cut sick pay costs to businesses by up to £165 million a year, as well as increase economic output by up to £900 million a year.

For more information, please contact a member of the Employment team.

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