The government has launched its "Health is everyone's business: proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss" consultation, which introduces proposals aimed at retaining those with disabilities or long term health problems in work. The key proposals affecting employers, on which views are being sought, are as follows:

  • an extended right for those suffering from ill health to request modifications to the workplace on health grounds (currently, an employer's duty to make reasonable adjustments is limited to those individuals who meet the legal definition of disability) although an employer would be able to justify a refusal on legitimate business grounds 
  • strengthening statutory guidance for employers to encourage early intervention to support a sick employee to return to work
  • radical reform of the statutory sick pay (SSP) system including amending the rules to allow an employee returning from a period of sickness absence to have a flexible, phased return to work, extending the protection to those earning less than the Lower Earnings Limit who do not currently qualify for SSP, and strengthening compliance and enforcement of SSP
  • for SMEs, potential co-funding of Occupational Health advice and support

This consultation closes on 7 October 2019 following which the government will review the evidence and views gathered to develop its proposals further and determine what approach is affordable in the context of the next Spending Review.