Sickness absence is to be tackled as part of new proposals for the 2013 budget.

It is hoped the move will help to improve treatment for ill workers and reduce the significant costs of sickness absence every year.

The review also indicated that employers should be encouraged to utilise third party providers more to help with cases of long-term sickness absence.

As part of the plans, the government called for an independent panel of practitioners to sign off workers on long-term sick leave, as these individuals could provide better advice than family doctors.

GPs should also be made more aware of the benefits that come with returning to work early.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson at industry body Group Risk Development (Grid), expressed her delight at the plans, noting that the government has recognised interventions aiming to minimise absence.

"Financially astute employers will, of course, continue their health, wellbeing and support programmes to ensure return on investment plus an incentivised, productive and well-supported workforce, but relief on interventions will encourage many more employers to consider such programmes," Ms Moxham explained.

She summarised that the government has now clearly recognised the crucial role employers have when it comes to helping employees return to work.