By Daniel Hunter

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has welcomed the Government’s proposal to establish a health and work assessment and advisory service to provide advice to employees, employers and GPs in order to help people back to work after sickness absence and prevent them falling out of employment.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, comments: “Research shows that the longer people are off sick, the less likely they are to make a successful return to work; after six months’ absence from work, there is only a 50% chance of someone making a successful return.

"Evidence also suggests that occupational health services are the most effective means of helping people with health problems back to work, yet only a minority of small firms provide access to these. The new service will therefore fill a gap in the market by providing free, independent, objective assessment and advice to help people make quicker and lasting returns to work.

“Given that almost half of employers* do already operate an Employee Assistance Programme, it is also positive news that the Government is to retain tax relief on such programmes. The CIPD would also encourage Ministers to follow the recommendation of the sickness absence review team and extend tax relief to occupational health and vocational rehabilitation services in the 2013 budget.”

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