Proposals aimed at reducing the number of British people who lose their jobs because of disabilities and ill health provide an opportunity that must be “vigorously seized”, the professional body for workplace health and safety professionals said today.
The Government’s Department for Work and Pensions and Department of Health and Social Care consultation highlights that too many people with disabilities fall out of work unnecessarily, with 300,000 leaving work every year, making them ten times more likely to leave work following long-term sickness absence than those who don’t have disabilities.
The Government is keen to tackle the barriers they face to ensure they have equal chances and has launched a consultation on a range of measures aimed at improving how employers can best support them, so they can stay in and thrive at work.
Among the measures proposed are a new right for employees to request modifications on health grounds for those not covered by the ‘reasonable adjustments duty’ and the right for a day-one written statement for both employees and workers to include eligibility for sick leave and pay.
Also proposed are the possibility of a Statutory Sick Pay rebate and co-funding of occupational health services for small and medium-sized businesses, and an increase of high-quality and cost-effective occupational health services.
Many of the proposals were suggested by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), which was on the expert group which focused on the work.
Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at IOSH, said: “Good work is good for health and wellbeing and sadly, work-health support has been neglected for too long. We must vigorously seize this opportunity to radically transform occupational health in Britain and secure safe and healthy working lives for everyone for the future.
“It’s encouraging to see so many of IOSH’s suggestions feature prominently in this consultation, from more support for small and medium-sized enterprises, vulnerable workers and the self-employed, to increasing access to high-quality occupational health support, effective awareness campaigns, and a stronger evidence-base for delivery.”
Richard added: “We urge IOSH members to contribute to this important consultation, helping to further inform these UK Government proposals.”
The consultation can be found here. IOSH members can send comments to email@example.com, to help inform IOSH’s submission, by Friday 13 September. Alternatively, they can respond individually to the Government by completing its online survey by 11.45pm on Monday 7 October.