As we mentioned in last month’s ‘winter working’ blog, long-term sickness can have a devastating effect on business – particularly if you are a SME. The Health and Work Service, due to be rolled out in April this year, aims to support smaller businesses who do not have on-site occupational health advisers or employees health services via private medical or income protection insurance schemes.
This scheme will be funded through savings made from removing the ability of small businesses to reclaim their statutory sick pay costs (SSP), which came into place last April. Of course, there is no magic wand to stop your employees getting sick; but the new measures should at least support those who want to return to work.
The Health and Work Service website and phoneline will offer free advice to employers, employees and GPs. What’s more, there will be a tax exemption of up to £500 per year per employee on treatments recommended by the occupational health adviser and paid for by the employer.
Ben Stepney,an associate in the Employment Team at Thomson Snell & Passmore told Real Business: “The intention behind the service is well placed. It will provide small businesses with access to occupational health professionals.
“My view is that the government’s money is better spent on a new service that will proactively help employers to rehabilitate ill employees back into the workplace, in contrast to subsidising statutory sick pay which amounts to a blanket approach and which does not provide any incentive for employees to return to work.”