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Government announces supplier of new Health and Work Service

The Government has announced that Health Management Limited, a Maximus Company (HML), who are reported to be the UK's largest occupational health provider, will be the supplier of the new Health and Work Service which is to be launched later this year.

What does the service do?
The aim of the Health and Work service is to help employers and employees manage sickness absence and help people return to work faster. It was created to replace the now abolished Percentage Threshold Scheme which enabled employers to reclaim statutory sick pay from HMRC.

The service will initially be introduced on a phased basis beginning in the North of England, the Midlands and Wales with a full national roll-out expected by May 2015.

Employees on sick leave will be referred to the Service by GP’s and HML will then supply:

  • an occupational health assessment when an employee reaches (or is expected to reach) more than 4 weeks’ sickness absence;
  • a case manager, designated to each employee to support them through the assessment and who will design steps to get that employee back to work;
  • a return to work plan; and
  • general health and work advice for GPs, employers and employees via the telephone and a designated website.

How does the service benefit employers?
If successful, the Service is expected to:

  • reduce sick pay costs to employers and increase efficiency and output; and
  • reduce the number of employees leaving employment owing to sickness absence and thus reduce the hours which employers have to spend on recruiting new staff and the associated costs of this.

What issues may arise from the new service?
The Government’s announcement and plans regarding the service do give rise to a number of issues, including:

  • If the employer doesn’t agree with the occupational health report produced by HML can they refuse to accept it and obtain their own report or will they be bound by HML’s findings?
  • If the employer obtains a report from their own occupational health provider and also receives one from HML are they bound by HML’s report?
  • Is the service going to be mandatory for all employers?

Unfortunately these questions will remain unanswered until more information is provided by the Government.

What happens now?
The Government is due to meet with HML to discuss the service in further detail and ultimately decide on an official implementation date. We will keep you informed as to any announcement regarding this.

In the meantime, if you would like to find out more or ask any questions regarding this announcement or the impending implementation of the service please do not hesitate to contact us.