The UK government plans to address the increasing issue of long-term sickness absence, which has reached a record 2.8 million people, with a new bill that requires UK businesses to provide occupational health services. Only 45% of workers in Britain currently have access to some form of Occupational Health service.

Occupational health is a specialist branch of medicine focusing on the health of staff in the workplace. It includes a range of services that aim to enhance staff well-being and ensure a healthy work environment. Such services can benefit businesses by: 

  • Reducing sickness absence 
  • Preventing and removing health risks in the workplace 
  • Improving lifestyle and wellbeing  
  • Increasing productivity and staff retention 

The government intends to set minimum standards for occupational health services within months, aiming to ensure all employees have access to necessary health services such as physiotherapy, mental health treatment, screening, and preventive care. This initiative is part of a broader strategy to reduce absenteeism, boost productivity, and stimulate economic growth by keeping employees healthy and in work rather than signing them off sick. 

The UK Government recently launched its Occupational Health Innovation Fund which has provided £1 million in funding to 10 projects to develop innovative new models of Occupational Health, using technology to improve the capacity and capability of providers and increase access for SMEs. 

Jo Churchill, the employment minister, promised to “drive down absenteeism, which we know is holding back British businesses, and really focus on making occupational health support available to all” She added: “Millions of working days are lost each year through sickness. We are helping businesses tackle this challenge head-on so we can help boost productivity and grow our economy.” 

Furthermore, the government’s emphasis on making occupational health support “available to all” suggests a particular focus on extending these services to small businesses, which have historically been less likely to offer such benefits due to cost constraints. The bill mentions the possibility of a standard deal for small businesses to purchase occupational health services.  

The government’s initiative to formalise occupational health standards and encourage businesses to prevent illness-related job loss creates a prime environment for employee perks, especially health and well-being solutions. Dragon Perks can help businesses of all sizes, particularly small to medium enterprises,enhance thier health and wellbeing offering in a cost effective manor, with only a minimum of 5 licences required, costing as little as £3.46 each per month.

Our health and wellbeing solutions already include Everymind Mental Health App, 24/7 GP helpline , Discounted Gym Memberships , Employee Assistant Programme and a range of Financial Wellbeing solutions. Together with our supplier partners we offer private medical insurance for businesses from indepentant insurance brokers who find the best deal based on the businesses budget and needs.

Get in touch today to discuss improving your employee health and wellbing offering. We’d be happy to give you a demo of our full range of solutions and discuss your specific needs.  

References: New Bill Requires UK Businesses to Provide Occupational Health Services 

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/employers-must-offer-healthcare-to-help-slash-sickness-benefits-bill-lx06knltt?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=LinkedIn#Echobox=1708509150 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-occupational-health-taskforce-to-tackle-in-work-sickness-and-drive-down-inactivity 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/employee-research-phase-1-and-2/employee-research-summary  

https://www.som.org.uk/challenging-data-about-access-occupational-health-services 

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1388245/uk-sick-leave-figures/ 

https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peoplenotinwork/economicinactivity/articles/populationchangesandeconomicinactivitytrendsuk2019to2026/2023-03-03 

https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-9366/CBP-9366.pdf 

https://www.nhshealthatwork.co.uk/oh-can-help-businesses.asp