Health and Work Service

The government are introducing a new Health and Work service across England, Scotland and Wales later this year. The service comprises of two elements:
  1. A health and work telephone helpline and online support for employers, employees and GPs.
  2. Access to an occupational health assessment for employees on a period of sickness absence lasting four weeks or more.
The new service will not entail any changes to existing laws. It is simply intended to identify issues preventing an employee from returning to work and draw up a plan for them, their GP and their employer, recommending how they can return to work more quickly.

The normal referral route will be via a GP, although an employer will be able to refer an employee if their GP has not done so after four weeks of absence. The service will take a case-managed approach, with a case manager being assigned to a case who will be responsible for follow-up and continuity of care. The case manager will formulate a ‘return to work plan’ detailing any obstacles, recommended interventions and a timetable. The case manager will also engage the employer where appropriate to ensure that they understand the workplace and discuss their recommendations with them.

The service will go live in Autumn 2014 in limited areas with a full service being in place from April 2015. The government expects the new service to save employers £70 million a year and cut the time people spend off work by 20-40%.

Kayleigh Leonie