Can employers tackle disability claims?Almost two-thirds of businesses say they have no plans to change their current sickness and absence benefits practices, despite new government initiatives, new research has found.

The government has encouraged employers to promote and report on wellness and health in the workplace to prevent people leaving employment. It also wants to ensure only the genuinely disabled and long-term ill qualify for state benefits.

However, the survey by Aon Consulting found that nearly a fifth of businesses are unaware that these welfare reform expectations are being placed on them.

Matthew Lawrence, senior consultant of Aon Consulting, said it is in the employer’s best interests to ensure their workers are kept in employment and out of the benefits system, from both a financial and corporate responsibility point of view.

He stated that effectively using occupational health resources, having formal absence processes in place and introducing a workplace wellness programme “can very quickly help reduce the number of sick days taken by employees, as well as helping reduce the number of long-term injuries sustained at work, such as back injuries and increase productivity”.

It was recently revealed that a crackdown on benefit cheats found that in some areas, 90 per cent of individuals seeking sickness benefit have been told they are well enough to work.