The government’s announcement that it is to probe current sickness absence arrangements has been met with some alarm by the TUC, which has warned that cutting sick pay would prove counter-productive.

Brendan Barber, the trade union’s general secretary, insisted the organisation would welcome any attempt to assist individuals who have been out of work due to long-term conditions, but expressed doubt over the coalition’s intentions.

“The review is being conducted by a leading voice of employers’ interests, with no corresponding involvement from unions representing workers affected by sickness absence,” he explained.

Mr Barber added that the most effective way of preventing lengthy absences due to ill health would be to implement pre-emptive measures, but claimed spending cuts will allow some firms to run “unsafe and unhealthy” workplaces.

The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development welcomed the government’s investigation, although it suggested that businesses should be encouraged to offer occupational health services or counselling where necessary.

Posted by Ross George