Health and Work Service update

04 March 2014

The commercial process to secure a supplier for the Health and Work Service (HWS) has begun.

HWS will be introduced in late 2014, and will provide independent occupational health advice to all employers, GPs and employees. Find out about the new Health and Work Service that will help people with a health condition stay in or return to work.


As a result of the Government Response to the Sickness Absence Review, the abolition of the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Percentage Threshold Scheme (PTS) was announced in the 2013 budget. It is intended PTS will finish at the end of the 2013-14 tax year. The money from PTS will be reinvested into funding the new Health and Work Service (HWS), which will support employers to better manage sickness absence and reduce sick-pay costs.

The service has two elements:

  • an advice line and website offering general advice on issues impacting on health and work to anyone who needs it
  • an occupational health assessment providing expert advice to employees who reach or who are expected to reach four weeks’ sickness absence.

Where appropriate, the service will produce a return to work plan and signpost employees to interventions. GPs can refer employees who reach or are expected to reach four weeks’ sickness absence. Employers may also refer an employee if at that point they have not already been referred by their GP.

In addition, Budget 2013 announced the Government would introduce a tax exemption for amounts up to £500 a year paid by employers for medical treatments for employees recommended by the Health and Work Service. In response to the consultation, the Government decided that in addition to the medical treatments recommended by the new service, it will extend the exemption to those recommended by employer-arranged occupational health services. Without such tax exemption, the payment would be liable to income tax and employer National Insurance contributions.