Dealing with long term ill health at work

The Government has recently consulted on how employers can better support employees experiencing long-term ill-health at work.

The Government’s plan is to encourage early intervention through a strengthening and expansion of statutory guidance but with so many failed schemes in the past, we explore what options are out there for employers to comply with their legal duties whilst balancing the cost to the business.

Through the Equality Act, employers are under a duty to proactively consider making reasonable adjustments in the workplace for disabled employees.

The test for disability can often have a fairly low threshold which places costly duties on employers but there are ways to save money whilst ensuring your employees are supported.

Occupational health provisions

Occupational health doesn’t always have to be expensive.

Often GP advice can provide an element of occupational health guidance which in simple cases is all that is required.

Many occupational health providers are successfully utilising phone appointments that provide the required guidance, often at a third of the price.

Free services – Able Futures

Able futures is a government funded service providing mental health support services.

They provide support to employed individuals with concerns and mental health difficulties.

It works in a similar way to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

The service can assist with depression, anxiety, stress, bereavement, eating disorders and many more concerns.

The employee does not need to be medically diagnosed with a condition to be treated by Able Futures.

They also deal with many non-medial related concerns such as finance management and general wellbeing advice where these are contributing to poor mental health.

The support provides individual support plans created through trained and qualified Vocational Rehabilitation Consultants.

More information can be found at:

Mental health support for employers from Able Futures

Access to Work funds

The Governments Access to Work fund provides grants to help disabled employees in the workplace.

Access to work provides grants of up to £59,200 per annum to help tackle workplace barriers faced by employees with physical and mental health conditions.

A grant can help pay for specialist equipment or software, adaptations and support services.

A grant can also be used to provide disability awareness training for colleagues.

The employee has to apply for an Access to Work grant so as an employer you can encourage and support them to do so.

Application and eligibility details are on GOV.UK

To read more click here


An Employee Assistance Programme is an American concept that has made its way over to the UK.

EAPs are outsourced workplace programmes that support employees through personal concerns such as stress, mental health, alcohol and drug issues, legal and debt worries and other personal problems.

They are a support tool by providing counselling, therapy and advice services on an array of topics for your employees aiming to promote their wellbeing.

These services can be carried out over the phone, online or face-to-face depending on which package you choose for your organisation.

Costs vary considerably depending on provider, level of service and how many employees you have.

They are usually charged at a monthly or annual rate, averaging around £15 per employee per annum.

How will these interventions help my business?

  • Providing a duty of care
  • Ensuring compliance with the Equality Act
  • Potentially a reduction in sickness absences
  • Can be incorporated into your company wellbeing policy/actives
  • A support arm for your employees
  • A way to reduce the cost of long term ill health
  • A way to boost your employee relations

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