The Government has published Health is everyone’s business: proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss, a consultation closing on 7 October, which proposes a new right for employees to request workplace modifications on health grounds (this would be in addition to the duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees). This would be similar to the right to request flexible work and enable an employer to refuse on legitimate business grounds. Modifications could include recorded conversations with the employee about what is needed, seeking occupational health advice, and/or adjustments to hours, duties or the physical environment. The consultation asks if the right should be made available to all employees or limited to assist return from sick leave (possibly of a minimum length of 4 weeks) or after 4 weeks’ cumulative sickness absence. The right would be supported by a new Code of Practice and would be considered by an employment tribunal in an unfair dismissal claim.

Other proposals include measures to improve access to occupational health services and reforms to the statutory sick pay system, including to allow SSP to be paid on a pro rata basis during an employee’s phased return to work after sickness absence, removing the concept of qualifying days and removing the lower earnings limit for eligibility.