Health & Work Assessment & Advisory Service

02 May

The use of occupational health services by employers is relatively common but certainly not universal. Factors such as cost, accessibility and ignorance have been identified as reasons why such services are not being used.

The provisions will lead to the establishment of the health and work assessment advisory service (the Service). This is intended to make occupational health advice more readily available to employers and lead to better management of sickness absence.

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The use of occupational health services by employers is relatively common but certainly not universal. Factors such as cost, accessibility and ignorance have been identified as reasons why such services are not being used.

The provisions will lead to the establishment of the health and work assessment advisory service (the Service). This is intended to make occupational health advice more readily available to employers and lead to better management of sickness absence.

The Service is intended to help in three main ways:

1.    A state funded assessment for all employees who are off for four or more weeks;

2.    Case management for employees with complex needs where ongoing support is needed to maintain their employment;

3.    Signposting to appropriate interventions including things like Jobmatch where return to the original employment is unlikely.


There are at least two aspects of the present proposals which cause concern:


1.    It is intended that no further fit notes will be given out if the employee fails to work with the Service. The knock on effect will be that no SSP is paid. It is unclear how this will work where differences of opinion have arisen between the Service and an employer’s in house OH service? It also at present unclear what happens where an employee is signed fit by the Service but not accepted as such by the employer. The work/pay bargain arises out of the contract and not a health assessment!

2.    Perhaps a bigger issue for employers is the interaction between these new provisions and disability based discrimination. One can well imagine varying levels of competence within the Service leading to inappropriate recommendations for a return to work with adjustments or a failure to facilitate a return with adjustments where one was clearly possible. The duty to make adjustments for an employee’s disability is engaged and adjustments reasonable despite the opposite being recommended by the Service!

These provisions have been put back on a number of occasions with the latest proposal being that roll out will commence in autumn 2014. The problems with DLA assessments and PIPs have probably led the Government to have second thoughts over whether such a service will actually work in practice. So don’t be surprised if these particular provisions end up in the long grass for some time to come!
For a more in depth view of the proposals this webinar script for potential providers of the service is helpful.

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://dwp.gov.uk/docs/health-and-work-services-webinar-slide-scripts-231013.pdf


Peter D

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