Health is Everyone’s Business – What is the Government’s Response?

The Government has recently published its response to its ‘Health is everyone’s business’ consultation, the aims of which were to:

  • reduce ill health-related job losses;
  • support employee retention;
  • protect and maintain progress made in disability employment; and
  • boost the economic recovery in light of COVID-19.

From the response, it is clear that the Government is focussing on:

  • improving the accessibility of integrated health and disability-related information for employers, by continuing collaboration between teams in different parts of government to enhance resources to support COVID-19 returns to work; and
  • developing a national information and advice service for employers on health, work and disability, with material designed to help manage common health and disability events in the workplace, specifically aiming this at medium sized enterprises.

The consultation identified the need for greater clarity for employers about their responsibilities to support people who are disabled or have long-term health conditions to remain in work, or return to work following sickness absence.

The Government is looking into how to strengthen the current guidance, with the assistance of the Health and Safety Executive and other arm’s length bodies, and also to work with SME employers and self-employed people on how best to improve the process of obtaining quality and cost-effective Occupational Health advice.

Whilst the consultation sought views on reforming Statutory Sick Pay, the Government has decided not to take action at this stage.

The response does not say when any of these initiatives will be taken forward, but in the meanwhile employers should continue taking the following steps to help employees with health issues work successfully:

  • carry out risk assessments within the workplace;
  • provide access to expert support services; and
  • consider what reasonable adjustments can be made to the employee’s working environment.

The full response by the government can be found here.

For more information about anything mentioned in this article, please contact Keeley Parkes or Charles Pallot in our Employment team.

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