The government has launched an online service designed to help employers support disabled people and those with health conditions, including potentially making use of occupational health.
The Support with employee health and disability service, currently still in an early test version, will provide “essential information about supporting and managing employees with disabilities or health conditions at work”, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has said.
Any employer can access the £6.4m service, the DWP has added. It provides free advice on how to manage staff who may be in or out of work with a disability or long-term health condition in a Q&A format.
The DWP is also inviting businesses and disability groups to test and shape the new service as it develops. This will be via taking part in a short online survey.
The service focuses on offering guidance around managing absences and keeping in touch, having conversations with an employee, in and out of work, and deciding on changes to help them stay or come back to work.
It also covers potential changes or adjustments an employer could make to help an employee with a disability or health condition return to and stay in work.
Disability and return to work
The service currently concludes with employers being prompted to consider a referral to occupational health.
It says: “If the changes you put in place are not supporting your employee as much as they should, or if the situation has changed, you might find it useful to get advice from an occupational health provider. These services are paid for, but help your business by keeping your employees healthy and productive.”
The service also links to guidance from Acas about using occupational health at work.
The government has said the service is being targeted at smaller businesses, many of which do not have in-house HR support or access to an occupational health service.
Minister for disabled people, health and work, Claire Coutinho, said the intention is for the site to be constantly updated and improved over the next three years.
“The service has been designed to give employers easy access to the advice they need to create the best environments for their staff with disabilities or long-term health issues, so that anyone from any background can start, stay and succeed in work,” she said.
“Once fully developed, the service will also help employers understand their legal obligations, including how to make adjustments for disabled people and those with health conditions,” she added.