The Occupational Health Business Ltd is launching a new brand ‘Occupational Wealth’ and will be focusing on the potential savings employers can make through managing the costs of absence in the same way as managing any other business cost.
If businesses manage health at work efficiently, then both employees and the business will benefit financially and see an increase in wellbeing and productivity. With the changes planned this year by the Government to remove employers’ capacity to reclaim sick pay and to introduce access to Occupational Health (OH) services for everyone, the concept of Occupational Wealth has never been more relevant.
Following the 2011 review of sickness absence in the UK, a number of recommendations were made to make it easier for employees on sick leave to get back to work. One of the most important of these is the change to Statutory Sick Pay by the abolition of the Percentage Threshold Scheme from the 6th of April 2014.
The Government has decided to introduce an independent OH assessment service after this review undertaken by Dame Carol Black, found that a lack of access to OH advice was the single most important barrier preventing employees returning to work after sickness absence.
Occupational health has always been the only health service not available free at the point of need in the UK and so the creation of the new Health and Work Service as it will be known, is very good news.
The new service will provide both advice and assessment. Employers, employees and GPs will be able to access advice about various health conditions and what support is needed to enable employees to return to work. Once an employee has been absent for four weeks, they can be referred by their GP or employer for an assessment by an OH professional.
This assessment undertaken by a trained and experienced OH Nurse or Doctor, will identify what barriers are preventing a return to work and advise on the steps needed to return the employee to the workplace. An OH assessment will take account of any medical condition and assess how work capability is affected. Specific advice will be provided on appropriate reasonable adjustments in the workplace. Employers who currently use OH services are likely to continue to use current arrangements as in many cases there will be a long standing in depth understanding of their workplace, culture and business.
The Health and Work service, which will begin to be rolled out in the autumn, is expected to be fully operational by April 2015 and will be funded through the abolition of the Statutory Sick Pay Percentage Threshold Scheme. At the moment this compensates employers for higher than average sickness absence which is obviously counterproductive to returning employees back into the workplace.
This change will ensure public funds are used in a more effective way to help employers reduce sickness absence and costs. Employees will benefit by receiving appropriate advice and support to get back into work as soon as possible, rather than drifting into the benefits system.
Although employers will be expected to fund treatment, they may be eligible to benefit from tax relief on costs of up to £500 a year per employee. Introducing the opportunity for OH advice into every business will improve employee health and wellbeing and reduce the costs associated with absence in the future….. increasing its Occupational Wealth.