The Department for Work and Pensions has today published a Green Paper outlining a work and health plan to help disabled people into employment
The plans proposed today include:
- a review of Statutory Sick Pay and GP fit notes to support workers back into their jobs faster, and for longer
- encouraging Jobcentre Plus work coaches to signpost claimants to therapy
- the launch of a consultation on Work Capability Assessment reform
- encouraging employers to work with their employees with long-term health conditions to stop them from falling out of work
- a wide-ranging debate about recognising the value of work as a health outcome
''Employee health and wellbeing are business critical issues. We welcome this Green Paper and its commitment to support employers to take strategic ownership. Our Mental Health Toolkit for employers demonstrates the value of bringing together best employer practice aligned with access to public health services''.
Louise Aston,Wellbeing Director, Business in the Community
Download the toolkit>>
Statutory Sick Pay will be reviewed so it better encourages supportive conversations and phased returns to work. Consideration is also being given to extending fit notes from doctors to other healthcare professionals to help ensure people receive more tailored support. Ministers believe the system this government inherited in 2010 simply wasn’t working. Good progress has been made encouraging those who can work, while ensuring a safety net for those who can’t.
However, there is further work needed to ensure the system is better targeted and works for everyone.
Other key points of the paper are:
- the creation of a Disability Confident Business Leaders Group to work alongside Ministers and officials to increase employer engagement around disabled employment, starting with FTSE 250 companies
- a consultation on the Work Capability Assessment, the process for assessing Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit claimants’ capability for work – the proposals would put an end to the binary ‘can work/can’t work’ groups
- developing large scale trials on how health-led services and support can help get disabled people and those with long-term conditions back into work – with a specific focus on mental health and musculoskeletal conditions
- working with Health Education England, Public Health England and others to make the benefits of work an ingrained part of the training and health workforce approach
A new Personal Support Package including the following has also been announced
- a new Health and Work Conversation between new people on ESA and their work coach, focusing on what they can do rather than what they cannot
- recruiting around 200 Community Partners into Jobcentre Plus, including expertise from the voluntary sector
- a trial voluntary work experience programme for young people with limited capability for work, enabling them to benefit from experience with a mainstream employer to build confidence and skills, enhance their CV and demonstrate their ability to perform a role
- extending ‘Journey to Employment’ job clubs to 71 Jobcentre Plus areas with the highest number of people receiving ESA with limited capability for work
Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, said:
''The additional cost to the NHS of treating long-term health conditions that keep people out of work is estimated to be in the region of £7 billion per year. This means it is vital the health service is part of this new conversation on health and work. 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. I hope that health professionals will contribute their expertise so that we can ensure the best possible outcomes. Plans are set out in the government’s Work, Health and Disability Green Paper. It outlines how disability or a health condition should not dictate the path a person is able to take in life – or in the workplace. What should count is a person’s talents and their determination and aspiration to succeed. The gap between the employment rates of disabled people and non-disabled people sits at 32 percentage points – a gap the government is determined to start closing. Despite a record-breaking labour market, 4.6 million disabled people and people with long-term health conditions are out of work. Disabled people, employers, health professionals, and a wide range of other stakeholders will be asked for their views on how to make sure the health and welfare systems support those who can work with better opportunities to stay in employment, while protecting those who can’t work''.