September 26 2014.

The government is due to roll out a new, proactive approach to sickness absence from the end of 2014. The Health and Work Service will provide occupational health (OH) advice and support for employees, employers and GPs. Its objective will be to help people with a health condition continue employment.

The new scheme is intended to allow businesses to refer an absent employee for a health assessment after just four weeks, or less in some cases, in order to encourage an employee to focus upon returning to work. The service will be delivered by OH professionals who, as independent third parties, will be expected to look beyond the employee’s primary health condition and determine why the employee considers he/she is unable to return to work.

Participation in the scheme will not be compulsory for employer or employee, however, employees who refuse to engage with the new system run the risk of their GP being unable to sign them off work which may jeopardise their right to sick pay and other entitlements. They may also place themselves open to disciplinary action by their unreasonable conduct.

For more on this topic, look out for the October 2014 issue of Motorcycle Trader, landing early next week.