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New legislation: Employers prepare for new Health and Work Service for sick employees

Employers need to prepare for the Government's new Health and Work Service, due to be phased in from October 2014. The Service is designed to help workers on sick leave start working again as soon as possible and comprises an occupational health assessment for employees, and an advice service.

Legal Alert

This update was published in Legal Alert – August 2014

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The advice service will be available to employers, employees and their GPs over the phone and online. The Service will run alongside any existing employers' occupational health schemes.

Under the scheme an employee will usually be referred for an assessment by his or her GP after four weeks' sick leave (or if the GP expects the sick leave to last at least four weeks). If the GP has not referred an employee for an assessment after four weeks the employer can do so. The assessment can be made face-to-face or over the phone.

The outcome is a 'return to work' plan recommending ways to get the employee working again more quickly – such as retraining, homeworking or medical care - and sources of help and advice.

Employees are entitled to a tax exemption of up to £500 if they are receiving medical treatment recommended by the Service or arranged by their employer, as the treatment would otherwise be treated as a benefit in kind, and income tax and employer National Insurance contributions would be payable.

The Service is expected to be in force across the UK by April 2015 following a partial roll-out commencing October 2014. The Government is expected to issue guidance over the summer.

Operative date
April 2015 (October 2014 in some as yet unknown regions)

Download guidance on the new Service from the Government website

Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

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