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Public Consultation on Occupational Health

Volume 736: debated on Thursday 20 July 2023

Together with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, later today, I will publish a Command Paper launching the public consultation entitled “Occupational Health: Working Better.”

Tackling economic inactivity due to long-term sickness is a top priority for the Government. Increasing labour force participation supports the Prime Minister’s priorities of halving inflation and growing the economy. The Chancellor announced £2 billion at the spring Budget 2023 to support disabled people and people with health conditions to work. This consultation, together with the HM Treasury-led consultation to assess the case for further support through the tax system, represents a significant opportunity to work in partnership with employers to increase the coverage of occupational health provision.

Expert-led impartial advice, and interventions such as OH, can help employers provide appropriate and timely work-based support to manage their employees’ health conditions. However, OH coverage across Great Britain is currently at 45% of workers, which is substantially lower than international comparators.

This consultation brings together employers, the healthcare sector, and local communities by seeking their views on ways to increase OH coverage, specifically by exploring:

Voluntary standards and best-practice sharing, to help provide a simple and clear baseline for quality OH provision for all employers, particularly Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Best practice from other countries and other UK-based employer models that enable employers to provide support for their employees.

How we develop and support a multidisciplinary workforce in work and health, including expert OH workforce. This will build on our existing work with the OH sector and explore the opportunities this can offer businesses and providers.

Together, these consultations will inform potential policy options to support the success and prosperity of businesses, particularly SMEs and OH providers, to support individuals to remain and thrive in work, contributing to reducing labour market inactivity in the UK.

I invite employers, particularly SMEs, OH providers, healthcare professionals and non-healthcare professionals to respond to the consultation and share their views. A large print and Welsh version of the consultation are available. Further, a British Sign Language version will be made available.