Open Consultation - Health is Everyone’s Business - Proposals to Reduce ILL Health-Related Job Loss
This consultation seeks views on different ways in which government and employers can take action to reduce ill health-related job loss. Disabled people and people with long-term health conditions are at greater risk of falling out of work.
The proposals aim to support and encourage early action by employers for their employees with long-term health conditions and improve access to quality, cost-effective occupational health.
The Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health and Social Care want to understand the effect of these proposals on:
- the occupational health profession
This consultation closes on
1) Chapter one sets out what needs to change to support people with health conditions to remain in work.
Once people fall out of work for health reasons, the barriers preventing their return are high. While many employers already provide support to their employees, there are wide differences in employers’ ability and capacity to act. The proposals in this chapter seek to address those barriers by providing greater government support
2) Chapter two proposes changes to the legal framework to set clear expectations of employers’ responsibilities towards their employees.
Under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a duty to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled employees. However, there are some employees who may miss out on support from their employer, for example, because they do not meet the definition of disabled. The government is considering introducing a new right to request work(place) modifications empowering those employees not covered by the reasonable adjustments duty to seek the support they need from their employer
There is evidence to suggest that some individuals experiencing ill health may be dismissed before their employer takes steps to reintegrate them. The government believes there is scope to strengthen statutory guidance to support employers to take early, sustained and proportionate steps to support a sick employee to return to work before that employee can be fairly dismissed on the grounds of ill health
The system of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is inflexible and does not reflect modern working practices, such as flexible working. The government proposes to reform SSP so that it is better enforced and more flexible in supporting employees;
- This includes amending the rules to enable an employee returning from a period of sickness absence to have a flexible, phased return to work.
- It also includes extending protection to those earning less than the Lower Earnings Limit (currently £118 per week) who do not currently qualify for SSP.
- Where employers fail to pay SSP where it is due, the government could increase fines on employers.
- The government will also consider whether enforcement of SSP should be included within the remit of a proposed new, single labour market enforcement body.
- To provide clarity for employees of their rights, the government intends to make access to a day one written statement a right for both employees and workers. This would include details of eligibility for sick leave and pay
- Smaller employers may need additional support to help them meet their legal obligations, due to limited resources and the challenges of running a small business. The government is interested in how a rebate of SSP, targeted at small and medium enterprises (SMEs), might work to support greater employer action in helping their employees to return to work.
3) Chapter three sets out proposals to improve access to high quality, cost-effective occupational health (OH) services for employers and self-employed people
The government recognises that cost is a barrier faced by SMEs when purchasing OH, with small employers five times less likely to invest in OH services than large employers. Through this consultation, the government is seeking views on ways to reduce the cost for SMEs
There may be a role for government, and others, in ensuring that the market can respond effectively to increased demand with an increased supply of high quality and cost-effective services.
The government is interested in supporting innovation in the ways that employers buy services and in how services are delivered.
The government is considering ways to support the prioritisation and coordination of working-age health research and development, as well as ways of strengthening dissemination.
Quality standards and quality marks can enable providers to benchmark their performance, help them maintain or improve their offer. For employers, standards can help them judge the outputs of the services they receive and help purchasers quickly and easily choose between providers.
4) Chapter four sets out proposals to provide employers with the advice and support they need to understand, and act on, their responsibilities.
Employers often misunderstand or are uncertain of their obligations around workplace disability and sickness absence, or fear ‘doing the wrong thing’. The government is seeking views on improving the provision of advice and information to support the management of health in the workplace and encourage better-informed purchasing of expert-led advice.
The government is exploring the possibility of employers automatically reporting sickness absence through their payroll system so that government has the data to be able to provide timely and targeted guidance to employers on how to manage sickness absence.