The government has appointed occupational health provider Health Management to deliver its new Health and Work Service after a five-month tendering exercise.
The Health and Work Service, which is to be launched in late 2014 with a phased roll out until the end of May 2015, aims to help employees on sick leave return to work by providing them with an occupational health assessment when they reach, or are expected to reach, more than four weeks’ sickness absence.
Employees will normally be referred to the service by their GPs. A resulting return-to-work plan will be shared with their employer and their GP.
More general health and work advice will be available to GPs, employers and employees via telephone and a website.
The service will be delivered by Health Management in England and Wales. In Scotland, it will be delivered by the Scottish government.
Lord Freud, minister for welfare reform, said: “The introduction of the Health and Work Service is an important step in supporting employees, GPs and employers to manage sickness absence better.
“Providing support where it’s needed most will help to reduce the length of time employees take off sick which, in turn, will cut sick pay costs, improve economic output and reduce the chances of people falling out of work and having to claim benefits, all contributing to the government’s long-term economic plan.”
Dr Alasdair Emslie, chief medical officer at Health Management, added: “We are looking forward to delivering this new service, which will provide essential support for those on sickness absence.
“This is an innovative approach by the government and we welcome the opportunity to contribute our expertise to this area.”