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UK ministers consider worker health checks to tackle labour shortages

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Ministers are looking at bringing in annual health checks for workers and allowing more hospitality staff to come from abroad in an effort to deal with labour shortages.The plans could involve giving companies subsidies for occupational health services to prevent workers going off long-term sick, as part of the government’s review of the workforce to be unveiled alongside the budget this month.Ministers have also asked the Migration Advisory Committee for advice on whether the hospitality, construction and retail industries should be on the list of sectors where there is a shortage of workers, helping them to recruit from overseas.It is thought hospitality workers are the most likely to be put on the list, which makes it easier for staff to get jobs from abroad.Jeremy Hunt ordered the workforce review amid concerns the economy is being held back by shortages of workers that have emerged since the pandemic and Brexit.The health check plans, first reported by the Sunday Times, would form part of the workforce review conducted by the Department for Work and Pensions with input from the Department of Health and Social Care.It was launched in an attempt to understand why there are about 600,000 more “economically inactive” people of working age than before the pandemic.Under the proposal, there could be a trial of a new subsidy for small businesses, which will enable those who purchase occupational health services to claim back up to 80% of the costs from the government.The review has also looked at childcare costs, which are a major barrier to working-age parents of young children entering the full-time workforce.

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