Government to test subsidy model to boost investment in OH

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The government is to test how offering a subsidy might encourage more employers to invest occupational health provision, but has pulled back from reforming sick pay or putting in place a ‘right to request’ workplace modifications.

The moves have been announced within the government’s long-awaited response to its 2019 consultation Health is everyone’s business, which was published yesterday.

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Other key announcements within the document include:

  • New non-statutory guidance to be developed to support disabled people and people with long-term health conditions to remain in work, with the Health and Safety Executive also being tasked to explore the introduction of statutory guidance at a later date.
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  • Better information and advice on workplace health support for employers, with the government looking at “refining” the information available.
  • The government “to explore the potential merits” of a new Centre for Work and Health Research to strengthen the evidence base around OH intervention.
  • The government committing to “considering methods” to promote the expansion of clinical roles, improving OH multidisciplinary workforce models, developing new training approaches and “establishing an OH leadership function”.
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  • The government also working to explore extending fit note certification to a wider group of healthcare professionals, introducing digital certifying of fit notes and “looking towards further opportunities” to make the fit note interactive.

On the issue of a subsidy, the document did not go into detail as to what this would look like or precisely how it would work.

However, it made it clear that responses to the 2019 consultation had been strongly in favour of some form of subsidy to allow small and medium-sized businesses and the self-employed to access OH more easily, with employers being asked to contribute part of the cost “to ensure their commitment and to protect against exploitation of the scheme.”

The response document therefore said: “Government will test a subsidy which would aim to gather evidenc

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