This Spring was due to see the launch of the new Government Health and Work Assessment and Advisory Service (HWAAS) although it appears that this will now commence in “late 2014” according to the gov.uk website.#
This service aims to provide an occupational health assessment as well as general health at work advice to employers, employees and to GPs, in order to help employees with a health condition stay in or return to work. It will also provide up to £500 tax relief to employees on medical treatments recommended / approved by the service.
According to the gov.uk website there are 2 elements to the service:
•assessment – once the employee has reached, or is expected to reach, 4 weeks of sickness absence they will normally be referred by their GP for an assessment by an occupational health professional, who will look at all the issues preventing the employee from returning to work
•advice – employers, employees and GPs will be able to access advice through a phone line and website
Following an assessment, employees will receive a return to work plan with recommendations to help them to return to work more quickly and information on how to get appropriate help and advice.
We await further news on exactly what this service will look like and we hope it will be useful to employers who are experiencing issues with longer term sickness absence.