The government has launched a pilot scheme that it hopes will help to encourage those who have been on sick leave to return to work more quickly.

Care services minister Phil Hope and work and pensions minister Lord McKenzie announced the Fit for Work Service Programme of Piloting yesterday (February 19th).

The scheme will look to test different ways of supporting employees and each programme will be personalised for the individual.

Commenting on the importance of a healthy workforce, Phil Hope said: "Good health for the workforce is good for business – every employer knows that.

"In the current economic climate it’s even more important that we cut the £100 billion cost of worklessness caused by ill health."

He said that he hoped local authorities and Primary Care Trusts would get behind the programme and provide "innovative ideas" on how to help employees back to work.

Research undertaken by the TUC revealed that one in four people came to work despite being ill in January.