Government figures have revealed that working age sickness sees over 300,000 people leaving employment annually to claim sickness benefits, at a cost of £100 billion every year.
In response to the figures, the Prime Minister and Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith, have announced a review of the sickness absence system. Headed up by David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce and Dame Carol Black, National Director for Health and Work the review will have a number of objectives, including:
Exploring what changes could be made to help people stay in work, reduce costs to the tax payer and businesses and contribute to economic growth;
Examining whether the balance of costs is appropriately shared between individuals, employers and the State; and
Making tangible recommendations for change.
The CIPD has welcomed the review, with Ben Willmott, the CIPD’s senior policy adviser commenting that,
“The prime minister is absolutely right when he says that a short spell of sickness can far too easily become a gradual slide to a lifetime of benefit dependency…Employers, government and voluntary and private-sector providers need to work together to do more to stop people falling out of work for long periods, and more to provide the ladders out of the pit of unnecessarily prolonged health related worklessness.”
In addition to the review, it has been announced today that health and work programmes will receive an extra £12 million of funding, which will support programmes such as the Fit For Work Service and Occupational Health Advice lines. Health and work programmes provide a huge amount of support to both employees and employers in dealing with health issues and the workplace, so it is hoped that the additional funding of these services, in conjunction with the review will tackled the problem head on.