Health Shield friendly society is offering a free Occupational Health (OH) helpline* to employers across the UK – whether existing clients or not – providing recommendations on how to best proceed with any specific OH related issues. The helpline forms the central pillar in the provider’s OH platform, which now provides a one-stop-shop for access to various OH solutions, from on-site and virtual risk assessments, to targeted prevention and intervention support for employers and employees. This includes return to work questionnaires for employees after having, or being in contact with, Covid-19 or following a period of furlough.
Health Shield says the OH platform is completely self-service, with a view to it being efficient, yet simple. Via a secure, online portal, employers can request and book OH services and employees can complete questionnaires. There are no retainers or tie-ins; beyond the free helpline* employers only pay for services as and when they need them.
Health Shield says that in addition to helping with traditional absence management and prevention needs, the OH services also help meet potential evolving liabilities.
“Right now, thanks to the pandemic, remote working continues and for many this has shifted – or is likely to shift – from a temporary to a permanent arrangement. This brings OH considerations,” says Carl Laidler, Director of Wellbeing at Health Shield. “For example, display screen equipment risk assessments do not need to be carried out where people are working from home ‘temporarily’. Where this becomes a more permanent arrangement, employers need to make sure they have taken all reasonable steps to control the risk.”
Health Shield’s OH platform includes access to all of the services listed below, all of which – aside from on-site risk surveillance – are fully remote / online and contact free, eliminating the risk of Covid-19 transmission. For on-site risk surveillance, the provider has applied stringent Covid-19 operating procedures to help mitigate the risk of transmission.
• Free OH helpline* – direct access to advisers who will assess the specific situation and introduce employers to any additional services they may need.
• On-site risk surveillance – designed to meet the specific needs and activities of a business, from eyesight, hearing and lung function tests to hand-arm vibration syndrome assessments.
• Online health questionnaires – fully remote and online questionnaires designed to support duty of care responsibilities and covering everything from new starter health and wellbeing, working at heights and night worker to musculoskeletal, display screen equipment (DSE) and maternity.
• Management referrals – objective advice for both employers and employees on all relevant absence, work-related health conditions and Equality Act matters.
• Stress intervention – employers can gain access to recommended steps from clinicians to help any employees absent due to stress.
This announcement comes at a time when the industry awaits the government’s Green Paper in response to the July 2019 consultation Health is everyone’s business: proposals to reduce ill-health related job loss.***
The consultation paper looked at ways to encourage employers, particularly SMEs, to more proactively manage employee absence. It focused heavily on OH as a key tool in the employer’s armoury. It also looked at Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) reform, suggesting – amongst other things – potential rebates for those employers that evidence proactive absence management.
Jennie Doyle, Head of Marketing at Health Shield, commented: “Access to a one-stop-shop for cost effective Occupational Health support services, only when needed, has long represented a problem. As is the traditional lack of integration between OH and an employer’s existing wellbeing services. All of this is particularly true where SMEs and mid-size companies are concerned.
“Health Shield’s Occupational Health platform not only helps employers of all sizes access essential OH services – more important than ever due to the pandemic – but also helps promote a deeper collaboration between OH and HR, highlighting risk mitigation and absence management solutions as well as instances where existing wellbeing services, whether provided by Health Shield or not, might be used in a preventative capacity.”
*Excluding call costs
**Furlough is currently extended until the end of April 2021.