SMALL BUSINESSES across Devon will soon benefit from a new £6.4 million national online service to help employers better support disabled people and those with health conditions in the workplace.

The early test version of the Support with Employee Health and Disability service provides essential information about supporting and managing employees with disabilities or health conditions at work.

Any employer can access the service, which provides free advice on how to manage staff who may be in or out of work with a disability or long-term health condition in a user-friendly online Q&A format.

The service is aimed at smaller businesses, many of which do not have in-house HR support or access to an occupational health service, and will help them to build more diverse and inclusive workforces.The site is currently in test mode, with businesses and disability groups invited to have their say through a short online survey, to help shape the future of the service.

Central Devon MP Mel Stride, who chairs the influential House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, said: ‘It is both a moral and economic imperative that anyone with a disability who is able to work should have maximum opportunities to do so. ‘The new Support with Employee Health and Disability service will make it easier for small businesses to help disabled employees and I would encourage local businesses to check it out. I have put a link to the service on my website at’

Over the next three years, the Government will invest £1.3 billion in employment support for disabled people and people with health conditions. This funding will go towards building up existing provision, including expanding employment support.