NHS employers and trade unions have agreed a set of new arrangements to help manage sickness absence and ill-health retirement in the health service.
The new arrangements include a two-tier system for ill-health retirement benefits, with those unlikely to ever work again receiving greater benefits than those who have a reasonable prospect of finding alternative work.
It sets employers minimum standards for managing sickness absence to ensure staff who are off sick are supported. Options include phased return, redeployment and access to support services to help them get back to work.
There is also scope to reinstate sick pay when entitlements have been exhausted where employers have not reached an appropriate outcome for staff on long-term sickness absence.
The deal follows a three-month consultation on the proposals and comes into force today (1 April).
David Jordison, management-side chair for the review, said: “The management of sickness absence within the NHS is challenging, but the revised arrangements provide real opportunities to improve overall health and wellbeing in the workplace.”
Richard Parker, staff-side chair, said: “NHS staff will benefit as the emphasis is for NHS managers to communicate with staff when they are off sick and seek to offer them ways and means of getting back to work.
“When a return to work is not possible, the pension provisions will support those staff who will not be able to work again.”