The Government has launched a scheme to help prevent people who become ill leaving the workforce prematurely.
Building capacity for work: A UK Framework for Vocational Rehabilitation was launched by the minister for work, Jane Kennedy, at the National Employment and Health Innovations Network meeting in Manchester today.
Under the programme, the Government will set up a Framework for Vocational Rehabilitation Steering Group to enable stakeholders to contribute to the development of the new approach to vocational rehabilitation.
It will also establish a Research Working Group and a Standards and Accreditation Working Group to analyse the issues and develop new guidance.
The first element of the guidance, the Health & Safety Executive's Managing Sickness Absence and Return to Work, was published today.
The Confederation of British Industry estimates the overall cost of sickness absence to the economy was £11bn in 2002.
Kennedy said: “The Government wants to enable more people with a health condition, impairment or injury to access, remain in or return to work for the benefit of all concerned, not least the individuals themselves and their employers.
"We can do this by offering appropriate help to access and return to work. We feel strongly that vocational rehabilitation has the potential to contribute to helping us and others deliver these goals,” she said.