The Department of Health (DH) asked the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to produce public health guidance for primary care services and employers on the management of long-term sickness absence and incapacity for work.

The guidance is for employers, NHS (particularly primary care services and occupational health professionals) and other professionals and managers who have a direct or indirect role in – and responsibility for – the management of long-term sickness absence and incapacity. This includes those working in local authorities and in the community, voluntary and private sectors. It will also be of interest to workplace representatives and trades unions, as well as employees and those on incapacity benefit.

The guidance complements and supports, but does not replace NICE guidance on: workplace activities to encourage employees to be physically active and to stop smoking, promoting mental wellbeing through productive and healthy working conditions, low back pain, anxiety and depression, and computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (CCBT). (For further details, see section 7.)

The Programme Development Group (PDG) developed these recommendations on the basis of the reviews of the evidence, an economic analysis, expert papers, stakeholder comments and fieldwork.

Members of the PDG are listed in appendix A. The methods used to develop the guidance are summarised in appendix B. Supporting documents used to prepare this document are listed in appendix E. Full details of the evidence collated, including fieldwork data and activities and stakeholder comments, are available on the NICE website, along with a list of the stakeholders involved and NICE's supporting process and methods manuals.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)