Employers have low confidence in government health scheme

More than four-fifths (86%) of respondents are not confident about the government’s health and work assessment and advisory service, according to research by PMI Health Group.

The scheme, which was introduced in January 2013, aims to provide advice and support for employers dealing with long-term sickness absence.

The research, which surveyed HR managers from 58 large employers, found that 33% of respondents consult with an occupational physician in every case of long-term sickness absence, while 53% do so occasionally. 

In cases of short-term absence, 12% of respondents refer employees to an occupational health physician, while 59% do so occasionally.

Just over one in eight (81%) respondents already provide staff with access to an occupational health service.

Mike Blake (pictured), director of PMI Health Group, said: “Given a majority of employers already provide access to an occupational health service, the suggestion is they have adequate processes in place.

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“The government service only provides advice to employers when staff have been absent for more than four weeks, so does not help them in monitoring the ongoing health of their staff and developing preventative methods to reduce absence.

“Although advice from the government service could help in returning staff to work, it may struggle to provide the kind of in-depth insight that comes from a knowledge of each specific case, a relationship with HR, the working environment and an understanding of an employee’s health background.”