Managing long-term sickness and incapacity for work

NICE guidelines [PH19] Published date:

Review decision: 

The review of this guidance has been deferred in light of 3 new referrals that we have received from Ministers: Workplace health - employees with chronic diseases and long-term conditions, Workplace health - older employees and Workplace health - the role of line managers. PH19 Management of long-term sickness absence and incapacity for work will be updated as part of the new referral, Workplace health - the role of line managers.

Next review date: May 2014

This guidance is for all those who manage long-term (or recurring short- or long-term) sickness absence and incapacity, including employers and people working in the NHS. It will also be of interest to workplace representatives and trades unions, employees and those receiving incapacity benefit or employment and support allowance (ESA).

Three of the recommendations aim to help employers and employees work together to ensure the right support is available to help someone on sickness absence return to work as soon as they are able.

NICE recommendations for employers include:

  • Identify someone who is suitably trained and impartial to undertake initial enquiries with an employee who is experiencing long-term sickness absence or recurring short- or long-term sickness absence.
  • If necessary, arrange for a more detailed assessment by relevant specialist/s. This could be coordinated by a suitably trained case worker/s.
  • Coordinate and support any health, occupational or rehabilitation interventions or services and any return-to-work plan agreed with the employee.

The guidance also recommends that those who are unemployed and claiming incapacity benefit or ESA should be offered an integrated programme of support to help them enter or return to work. This advice is aimed at the Department for Work and Pensions and other relevant commissioning bodies and organisations.

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