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The consultation is seeking views on how to halve the disability employment gap; 4.6 million people who are disabled or suffering with long-term health conditions are currently out of work, it says. Less than half (48%) of disabled people are in employment, compared with 80% of the non-disabled population.
Secretary of state for health, Jeremy Hunt, said the National Health Service spends around £7bn a year treating long-term health conditions that keep people out of work, and suggested that employment could help them recover.
He said: "This green paper launches a wide-ranging debate about recognising the value of work as a health outcome. With all the evidence showing that work is a major driver of health, this is a big opportunity to make sure that people get the support they need, improve their health and benefit the NHS all at the same time."
It also highlights that a failure to recognise that many people can work with the appropriate support "increases the risk that the individual falls out of work altogether or moves further away from securing employment".
There is little detail in the consultation document on how the fit note would be changed. However, it proposes a system where healthcare professionals "feel confident to use their skills and knowledge to issue fit notes only when appropriate and make full use of the 'may be fit' option that is available to them", and "recognise the value of a referral to Fit for Work for occupational health advice and return to work support and make referrals routine for eligible patients when appropriate".
Consideration is also being given to extending fit notes from doctors to other healthcare professionals to help ensure people receive more tailored support.
A GP's fit note provides evidence of the advice they have given a patient about their fitness for work. If a patient has been unfit for work for four weeks or more, the GP or employer can refer them to the Fit for Work service --introduced by the government to provide patients and employers return-to-work advice to minimise the need for long-term sickness absence.
Damian Green, secretary of state for work and pensions, said: "At the moment, for many people, a period of ill health, or a condition that gets worse, can cause huge difficulties. For those in work, but who are just managing, it can lead to them losing their job and then struggling to get back into work. Unable to support themselves and their family, and without the positive psychological and social support that comes from being in work, their wellbeing can decline and their health can worsen.
"The impact of this downward spiral is felt not just by each person affected and their families, but also by employers who lose valuable skills and health services that bear additional costs. There is a lack of practical support to help people stay connected to work and get back to work. This has to change."
"It's because they are not being incentivised," he said. "In fact they face a disincentive. GPs have highlighted in our training how difficult it is not to give a note to someone if they want it -- it's bullying [by] patients."
The survey carried out by YouGov for counselling group Relate and its Scottish partner, Relationships Scotland found that 33% of respondents agreed that their employer assumes the most productive employees put work before family life. The same proportion believed their boss thoughts the ideal employee is available 24 hours a day, while over a fifth (21%) felt that attending to caring responsibilities (children or partners) was frowned upon at work.
According to the charity’s Mental Health at Work Report 2016, 49% of line mangers would find even basic training in common mental health problems useful and 38% would appreciate training on how to talk to employees about wellbeing.
In the 11th biennial TUC survey of more than 1,000 UK safety representatives, 70% cited stress as the main hazard of concern to workers, especially for employees in the public sector most affected by government cuts. This was up 3% from the last survey in 2014 and a higher proportion than in any previous TUC study.
The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, questioned 522,246 Million Women Study, 22,559 EPIC-Oxford, and 251,045 UK Biobank participants on shift work and then followed them for incident cancer. The results were combined with data from seven previously published studies (covering 1.4 million women in total) from the US, China, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Maidstone Crown Court was told that New Earth Solutions Group employee Neville Watson, 39, was working close to the waste heap on 9 August 2014, carrying out a shredding task at the company’s Blaise Farm Quarry site in West Malling, Kent. He had connected a shredder to the loading shovel he was driving when the pile collapsed on him. He died from asphyxiation. It was the first time Watson had operated the shredding machine, Kent Online reported.
A Belfast-based Risk & Compliance software provider has been collaborating with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and construction giant Costain as part of an ongoing project to unlock artificial intelligence’s (AI) potential in improving the management of risks on worksites.
In my last article ‘The Forgotten Risk’, I discussed the potential consequences of not recognising menopause as part of the risk assessment process, highlighting that while pregnancy was covered as specific risk in legislation, menopause currently is not.
Victims and HR departments often don’t know how to react when employees cross the line. Emma Wright, outreach manager at ROAR, explains how to respond to – and prevent – sexual harassment in the workplace.
Organisations should provide their crisis management teams with the correct level of training, investment and support so they can respond effectively to the major global risks facing the world in 2023.
Work-related ill-health and non-fatal injuries have risen, according to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) latest annual health and safety at work statistics for Great Britain, published last week
A UK study of line managers that explores the support they have given employees who have returned to work after long-term sickness absence due to common mental disorders highlights five behavioural strategies that could enhance HR and senior management policies and practices.
A randomised control trial has found that office workers who use a standing desk alongside other interventions that encourage them to sit less and move around reduced their sitting time by an hour a day over one year.
A new report from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has underlined the need for stronger OSH protections in response to the growing focus on psychosocial work to support wellbeing and productivity, changes to working practices brought about by COVID-19 and technological advances in the economy.