In response to the government’s 2019 consultation, ‘Health is everyone’s business’, in which employers asked for joined-up advice on supporting health in the workplace, the government has launched a test version of its Support with Employee Health and Disability Service and is inviting feedback until 30 December 20221.
The service is designed for business owners and HRs to use in respect of particular employees, i.e. specific to an employee’s particular circumstances.
GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector, is responding to the new service saying it is disappointed that there is no mention of group income protection and its embedded support services such as EAPs and vocational rehabilitation, as these employer-sponsored benefits offer a wealth of support to employees whilst also relieving the burden on the state. GRiD believes they should be recognised within the new government service as being hugely beneficial tools for employers and by raising awareness of the key role these benefits can play, more employers will consider offering them and in turn, more employees will benefit.
It is important for as many employers and companies in the industry as possible to take the opportunity to respond: weight is given to the number of responses, and the more that call for other areas to be considered the better.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, says: “GRiD is submitting a response and we are encouraging our members and other group risk benefit advisers, providers and suppliers to do the same to amplify and add weight to this message. As the site is technically in a test state, we hope there will be scope to influence the content.
“Employers too should have their say on whether they would find the service useful in its current form or whether they would find it more useful if the information was expanded to include a broader range of support options.”
GRiD believes the current focus on occupational health as being the only tool an employer would have at their disposal is short-sighted. There are many other support services that are available for employers to use to help their employees such as HR support, Employee Assistance Programmes, case management, vocational rehabilitation, second medical opinion services, nurse-led support, fast-track access to physiotherapy, CBT and other talking therapies, online GP services, health apps and so on. These might be separately purchased by employers on a stand-alone basis or made available via other benefit purchases such as group income protection and private medical insurance.
Moxham continued: “The new Support with Employee Health and Disability Service needs to include much more information on the range of support available, including within group risk benefits, if it intends to ‘give employers the tools they need to empower and encourage disabled employees’ as it purports to do. Without this inclusion, it is lacking and not fully equipping employers with the information they need.”
The online feedback survey can be found by opening the Support with employee health and disability page and clicking the feedback link at the top where the text reads ‘BETA – This is a new service – your feedback will help us to improve.’