Government introduces new WorkWell scheme to get disabled and unwell people back to work

June 14th, 2024

On 7 May 2024, the Department for Work and Pensions and Department of Health and Social Care announced the launch of “WorkWell” pilots which will begin in October 2024 in several areas across England, including Birmingham, Greater Manchester, Leicester and parts of London. 

The new workwell scheme will provide a single assessment and gateway to workers to local employment support and health services. It aims to help people manage their health condition or disability, especially those on long term sickness absence, and identify workplace adjustments that would help them to stay in work or return to work sooner.  It is linked to reforming the current system of fit notes, where the government has recognised that some workers need better assessment and discussion to get them back to work.  

The service is voluntary. It will be available to anyone with a health condition or disability. People will be able to self-refer to WorkWell or they can be referred by their employer, GP or the community sector. Once referred, they will be supported by a Work and Health Coach who will carry out an assessment and develop a plan to help them overcome health and social barriers to work. They will be connected with local support services, including physiotherapy, employment advice and counselling.

In principle, this has the hallmarks of a useful scheme. Many of my clients want to go back to work but cannot because employers do not understand what reasonable adjustments should be made to accommodate their employee’s disability. If this scheme can help support workers, then that has to be a good thing but only time will tell if this will work. 

My biggest question is how will this new scheme coordinate with all the different services and agencies, given that historically providing a joined up service has always been inherently difficult due to lack of resources. 
This blog was written by Anita Vadgama, Partner at didlaw.


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