The government has allocated £13m in funding and renewed its call for organisations to participate in trial ‘Fit for Work’ schemes aimed at reducing the £100bn cost of sickness absence to the economy each year.
The Department for Work and Pensions announced last year the Fit for Work programme pilots in response to Dame Carol Black’s review of the health of the UK’s working age population. Expected to begin later this year, the pilots will involve personalised health tests for employees, skills and employment advice, and health and wellbeing services with a particular focus on vocational rehabilitation.
The government will today urge employers to volunteer to take part in the pilot schemes, backed by £13m of public funding, to help people on sick leave back into work more quickly. The money will also go towards giving employees wider social support such as debt or housing advice and conciliation services to help overcome disputes between employees and employers.
Care services minister Phil Hope said: “Good health for the workforce is good for business – every employer knows that. In the current economic climate it’s even more important that we cut the £100bn cost of worklessness caused by ill health.”
“I want local authorities, Primary Care Trusts and other providers to put their innovative ideas behind these pilots, which can only have social and economic benefits for their areas.”
Last year health specialists warned that educating and training line managers was critical to cutting absence rates and preventing unnecessary long-term sick leave.
Employers keen to get involved in the Fit for Work pilots should visit www.workingforhealth.gov.uk/Fit-for-Work/ for more details.