The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) believe that 131 million working days are lost each year due to sickness absence in the UK. Absenteeism resulting from illness often takes a disproportionate toll on small firms because they employ fewer people and therefore feel the absences more keenly.
The Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud has reviewed how absenteeism affects companies and his findings show that we need to stop people falling out of work and into long-term sickness benefits. The longer someone is out of the workplace, the harder it is for them to move back into work – but often fast intervention can stop people moving down that road.
The Government are introducing tax relief for interventions, and the Health Assessment and Advisory Service will aim to help businesses to hold on to their staff, helping workers stay in work. Potentially this could cut the sickness benefit bill by up to £60 million per year.
The Government will consult on the details of the tax relief later this year ahead of introduction of the service in 2014.
The new service will provide occupational health advice to employees, employers and GPs on the support and interventions needed to help employees move from sickness absence back into the workplace.
Businesses will benefit from tax relief when they pay to help their employees return to the workplace after sickness.
The new service will enable employer’s access to expert advice to help them manage sickness lasting longer than 4 weeks. Lack of advice or support is one of the main issues employers are facing in tackling sickness absence in the workplace.
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