Health and wellbeing of employees is very much in the forefront and much publicised by various organisations and media. Therefore, we could be excused for thinking or even accusing the Government of being late to the party but nonetheless they have shown up.

On the 15th July the DWP opened up a consultation ‘Health is everyone’s business: Proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss’, it is due to close on 7th October so there is time left for individuals and businesses alike to voice their opinion over the proposal put forward.

In the main the proposal if to offer support and encourage early action from employers, where it is known that an employee has a long-term health condition. This does mean that employees may have to be more open about their health issues. It further proposes to ‘improve access to quality, cost-effective occupational health.’

It is recognised that there are employers who support their employees suffering from long-term health issues. But too many employees leave their employment after a long-term absence. In the Ministerial Foreword of the consultation document a figure of 300,000 is stated where individuals with long-term mental health conditions fall out of the workplace annually. Government also understand there are many smaller employers who want to offer the support but are unable to because of a lack of knowledge, availability of time and funding to offer support to such employees.

The consultation, is seeking views on “the way in which government and employers can take action to reduce ill health-related job loss.”

Views of employers and individuals being sought are many but probably those that will be of significance and interest are a change in the legal framework whereby sustained employer support is encouraged at an earlier stage. What does this mean? In their consultation document DWP they offer three areas of potential change.

  • introducing a right to request work(place) modifications for employees not covered under the duty to make reasonable adjustments established in the Equality Act 2010;
  • strengthening statutory guidance for employers to encourage early intervention to support a sick employee to return to work; and
  • reforming Statutory Sick Pay to allow for greater flexibility in returning to work following sickness absence.

As the DWP state ‘Health is everyone’s business’ there are a number of ways in which an opinion can be voiced.

1 – Complete the online survey Give us your views’

2 – Attend a number of open meetings with officials at various locations and dates around the country.

The dates and locations are:

3rd September - 08:30 – 10:30 – Pontypridd – Conference Centre, University of South Wales, Treforest Campus, Llantwit Road, Pontypridd, CF37 1DL.

12th September – 08:30 – 10:30 – London – Royal College of Occupational Therapists, 106-114 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1LB.

20th September – 08:30 – 10:30 – Edinburgh – Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ.

To register click on the respective link.

3 – The government have also produced an ‘Easy Read’ booklet for those who do not want to read through Government ‘speak’. At the end of the booklet you are invited to answer their 21 questions.

There is also an audio version of the consultation that can be located at https://soundcloud.com/dwpgov/sets/health-is-every...

The idea behind these events is so that ‘we’ get a better understanding of the Government’s role and obviously a chance to discuss the potential changes not just with representatives of the government but also with other businesses. It is important that views are heard and voiced.

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