It has been nearly a year since the government published Fitness for work: the Government response to ‘Health at work – an independent review of sickness absence’. The review recognised the benefit of work and that rather than protecting sick employees from work an early return to work was more likely to protect their long-term health and wellbeing.
A key proposal in this response was the introduction of a Health and Work Assessment and Advisory Service. This Service which is expected to be launched in spring 2014 will make occupational health expertise more widely available to employees and employers and will include:
- State-funded assessment by occupational health professionals for employees who are off sick for four weeks or more;
- Signposting to appropriate interventions including Universal Jobmatch, an online jobsearch service for those employees who are able to work, but unlikely to return to their current employer;
- Case management for those employees with complex needs who require ongoing support to enable their return to work.
The Response acknowledges that more than assessment is needed if an effective service and intervention would form part of the structure of assistance. Some larger employers already have occupational health provision at work and the new service would sit alongside this.
Managing sickness absence and any underlying causes, whether short or long term is an important part of maintaining an efficient business. Employers can take active steps to help their employees remain healthy through wellness programmes that actively promote good health by providing facilities or encouraging lifestyle changes.
Kidwells are stepping in this direction with their Kidwells Lifestyles Gym which will be available to their employees as well as external gym members.
That said employees do become unwell and employers will avoid the problems of presenteeism by encouraging sick employees to stay away from work when they are unwell. Absence with an underlying cause such as stress, bullying or long term medical issues should not be ignored and the sooner the underlying issues is addressed and steps taken to return the employee the better.
If you would like to discuss any concerns about sickness absence from work or how it can be managed please contact Sarah Everton at firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you would like to see how the gym is progressing see HERE or contact Kidwells for further details and a visit.