Social workers subject to long-term sickness rule change

Social workers and other public sector staff could face a shake up in their sick pay arrangements if the government accepts recommendations made in an independent review, published today.

Social workers and other public sector staff could face a shake up in their sick pay arrangements if the government accepts recommendations made in an independent review, published today.

The sickness absence review was commissioned by the prime minister in February in an attempt to minimise the loss of work resulting from ill health and find ways of reducing the cost to employers and the taxpayer.

Dame Carol Black and David Frost, leading the review, were asked to particularly consider sickness absence in the public sector, which is on average one and a half to twice that of the private sector.

The report found that those working in health and social work are almost twice as likely as the average worker to suffer work-related stress, depression and anxiety.

On average, occupational sick pay (OSP) in the public sector is more generous than in the private sector. It estimated the cost of public sector absences to be in the region of £4.5 billion a year in wage costs.

Black and Frost therefore advised ministers to conduct a review of public sector OSP schemes.

The report also recommended that people should be signed off for long-term sickness by an independent assessment service, rather than GPs.

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