Published on 1st September 2008
Did you know that the economic cost of sickness absence and worklessness comes to £100bn per year? That's greater than the annual budget of the NHS, and equivalent to the GDP of Portugal.
It is in this climate that the review of Occupational Health was carried out by Dame Carol Black last month, and her recommendations will have repercussions for all employers, large and small. Over the coming months, the government will be going through the finer points of the report - so what could it mean for you?
As part of an overall aim to get the long-term sick back into work, 'sicknotes' will be scrapped, to be replaced by 'fit notes' which detail what an employee is capable of doing - not what the employee is incapable of doing.
The overall proposed scheme is called the 'Fit for Work' service, in which the GP intervenes after a month's sickness to give an electronic 'fit note' which details what the patient is capable of doing. It will also give recommendations beyond mere medication, such as exercise, advice on housing / finance and occupational health interventions.
The scheme has overwhelming support, with the CIPD urging that it is implemented as soon as possible.
Dame Carol Black's report put a large emphasis on the role of the workplace in keeping employees healthy. Her proposal includes a new health and wellbeing consultancy service, available to give advice to businesses, especially small businesses.
The report states that government should work alongside employers to develop a robust model for measuring and reporting on the benefits of employer investment in health and wellbeing. It went on to urge the government should promote the economic case of investing in health and wellbeing.
The CIPD has urged the government to give tax breaks to companies that provide rehabilitation services to get the long-term sick back into work. The report's call for extra investment in occupational health and vocational rehabilitation services is backed up by the CIPD who say:
The government could make a real difference by providing tax incentives to encourage more employers to use occupational health and vocational rehabilitation services. Ben Willmott, Workplace Health Adviser, CIPD
The report, which can be viewed here, has been warmly received, and urges support especially for small businesses who may not have the resources to cope with some of the recommendations. As the government sits down to thrash out the finer points of the report, it will make for an interesting autumn - and we'll keep you updated on any developments here in Connection!
Our EAP service, LifeWorks, provides a low-cost option for keeping your employees healthy and productive. It will cost you just the price of a Christmas meal per employee - with limitless return on investment. To find out how much you could save, call us today on 0800 0482 737 or contact us online.
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