Employers will be encouraged to take “early and supportive action” for employees with health conditions so that more people remain in work, under proposals put forward in a new consultation.
The July consultation, Health is everyone’s business: proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss, says: “Many people who are in work may also be managing one or more long-term health conditions. Some people leave work for health-related reasons; yet evidence shows that the right support from their employer could help them to stay in work.”
Proposals in the 75-page-document for employers and employees to respond include:
- A new right to request workplace modifications on health grounds for those not covered by disability legislation
- Higher fines on employers who fail to pay Statutory Sick Pay (up from the current maximum fine of £3,000)
- Changing regulations to allow for a flexible return to work for people who have been off sick or injured, working the hours and days to benefit them
- Increasing the numbers of doctors and nurses working in occupational health (OH) and counting them to judge capacity and future needs
- Subsidies or vouchers for SMEs to reduce the cost of purchase of OH
- New Working-Age Health Research and Development Network to publish guidance on evidence, key developments and emerging themes in occupational health
The Working Well Coalition, a group of businesses, MPs and health and wellbeing professionals, supported the call to improve workplace health. Writing on 26 July in an open letter to The Times, they said: “Modern society and the world of work is changing rapidly, bringing new challenges for our physical and mental health. After coughs and colds, musculoskeletal and mental health conditions are the two main causes of workplace absence in the UK, with more than 40 million days lost each year.
“We need to draw advice together on both physical and mental health for large and small employers. Many employers want to do more but do not know where to start.”
Health is everyone’s business consultation here
Ends 7 October
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