As the population ages, and the state pension age increases, supporting people with long-term conditions in the workplace will become increasingly important. 8  The Work Foundation’s submission to the Health Committee in 2013 estimated that approximately 21 million people of working-age will have at least one long-term condition by 2030. [30]  Evidence suggests that personalised, tailored support is effective in helping people with disabilities or long-term conditions into work. 9

Employers are responsible for the health and safety and welfare of their employees, whether they have a disability or not. 10  Under equality law, an employer must make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published practical advice for employers on employing disabled people and people with health conditions. 11  This covers issues such as:

  • recruitment (including the Work Choice scheme – see Box 6
  • reasonable adjustments
  • available support to meet additional costs of adaptations (including the Access to Work scheme) I
  • supporting older workers
  • advice on specific conditions (including mental health conditions, hearing and visual impairments, physical and ‘hidden’ impairments)
  • legal aspects (including discrimination and dealing with performance issues).

This DWP guidance also provides links to specialist organisations for further advice and support (see Box 7), and encourages employers to sign up to the Disability Confident scheme to demonstrate their commitment to supporting employees with long-term conditions and disabilities.

Box 6:  The Work Choice scheme

Work Choice is a voluntary scheme that enables working age people to find, keep and get on in a job if they have a recognised disability.J The scheme offers an interview to determine the type of support and help that is needed, which can include:

  • training
  • building confidence
  • finding a job that is suitable
  • interview coaching
  • developing skills.

There are three levels of help which can be extended by three or six months in exceptional circumstances and when there is a clear prospect of getting a job.  The three levels are:

  1. work entry support – including advice on work and personal skills to help find a job which can last up to six months
  2. in-work support – to help support a person to start work and stay in a job lasting up to two years
  3. longer-term in-work support – to help a person get on in their job and work without support.

Box 7:  DWP recommended sources of advice for employers on employing people with disabilities and long-term health conditions 12

  • The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) which provides free advice for employers on employment legislation including advice on age and the workplace.
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) promotes and monitors human rights. It protects, enforces and promotes equality across nine areas, including disability.
  • The Business Disability Forum (BDF) K is an employer organisation that offers information, support and advice on disability as it affects business. It can help employers make sure that their online recruitment tools and processes are fully accessible for disabled people.
  • Clear Talents Lcan help organisations identify and manage reasonable adjustments for job applicants, employees and students. It is free to use for applicants.
  • The British Association for Supported Employment (BASE) M is the national trade association involved in securing employment for disabled people.
  • The Disability Action Alliance N brings together disabled people’s organisations with other organisations to work in partnership to change the lives of disabled people.
  • The big I.D.E.A. (Inclusion, Diversity, Equality, Accessibility) O is a place for the diversity industry, employers, and jobseekers to communicate. The site brings together the best of what the industry has to offer with a broad range of views from employers, jobseekers, and diversity policy makers.

NICE has also published guidance on long-term sickness absence and incapacity to work, with a particular focus on supporting employees with musculoskeletal disorders or mental health problems. 13  The recommendations focus on effective and cost-effective interventions within a managed return-to-work pathway that aims to:

  • prevent or reduce the number of employees moving from short-term to long-term sickness absence
  • help employees on long-term sickness absence return to work
  • reduce the number of employees who take long-term sickness absence on a recurring basis
  • help people receiving sickness-related benefits return to (paid and unpaid) employment.

This NICE guidance also recommended that relevant proposals in Dame Carol Black’s review (‘Working for a healthier tomorrow’) are taken forward – including case-managed, multidisciplinary support for patients in the early stages of sickness absence (the new Fit for Work scheme – see section 5.8.2 below).14Further NICE guidance on effective approaches to promote and protect the health of workers with chronic diseases is currently in development. P

The London Healthy Workplace Charter also includes a number of standards relevant to supporting people with health problems to stay in work (see evidence section for promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace).

 

Notes

  1. https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work/overview
  2. https://www.gov.uk/definition-of-disability-under-equality-act-2010
  3. http://www.businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/
  4. https://www.cleartalents.com/
  5. http://base-uk.org/
  6. http://disabilityactionalliance.org.uk/
  7. http://www.thebigidea.co.uk/
  8. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/indevelopment/gid-phg58/documents
  9. https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work/overview
  10. https://www.gov.uk/definition-of-disability-under-equality-act-2010
  11. http://www.businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/
  12. https://www.cleartalents.com/
  13. http://base-uk.org/
  14. http://disabilityactionalliance.org.uk/
  15. http://www.thebigidea.co.uk/
  16. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/indevelopment/gid-phg58/documents

References

  1. Emmerson, C., Heald, K., Hood, A., “The Changing Face of Retirement – Future Patterns of Work, Health, Care and Income among the Older Population,” Institue of Fiscal Studies, 2014
  2. Institute of Health Equity, “Increasing employment opportunities and improving workplace health – evidence reviews,” 2014
  3. Health and Safety Executive, “Guidance for employers,” no date. [Online]. Available: http://www.hse.gov.uk/disability/employers.htm. [Accessed November 2016]
  4. Department for Work & Pensions, “Employing disabled people and people with health conditions,” Department for Work & Pensions, 2016
  5. Department for Work & Pensions, “Employing disabled people and people with health conditions,” Department for Work & Pensions, 2016
  6. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), “Workplace health: long-term sickness absence and incapacity to work (PH19),” Manchester, 2009
  7. Black, C., “Dame Carol Black’s Review of the health of Britain’s working age population – Working for a healthier tomorrow,” London: TSO, 2008
  8. Emmerson, C., Heald, K., Hood, A., “The Changing Face of Retirement – Future Patterns of Work, Health, Care and Income among the Older Population,” Institue of Fiscal Studies, 2014
  9. Institute of Health Equity, “Increasing employment opportunities and improving workplace health – evidence reviews,” 2014
  10. Health and Safety Executive, “Guidance for employers,” no date. [Online]. Available: http://www.hse.gov.uk/disability/employers.htm. [Accessed November 2016]
  11. Department for Work & Pensions, “Employing disabled people and people with health conditions,” Department for Work & Pensions, 2016
  12. Department for Work & Pensions, “Employing disabled people and people with health conditions,” Department for Work & Pensions, 2016
  13. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), “Workplace health: long-term sickness absence and incapacity to work (PH19),” Manchester, 2009
  14. Black, C., “Dame Carol Black’s Review of the health of Britain’s working age population – Working for a healthier tomorrow,” London: TSO, 2008