Three-quarters of people questioned by UK health charity DPP believe that too many people are off work on long-term sick benefits.
It is widely recognised that the longer a person is off sick, the less likely they will ever return to work. And government research has found that if someone has been claiming incapacity benefit for more than two years, they are more likely to die or retire than return to work.
The DPP survey of 1,000 people also found that the state, doctors and employers all have a key role to play in getting people back to work, with flexible working and health information crucial to facilitating the process.
DPP spokeswoman Dr Beth McCarron-Nash said: “People clearly do want to work, but feel they need support and information from employers to help them get back to work after a long illness.
“The survey shows that the majority of people believe that flexible working arrangements, providing workers with information and support so they can look after their health, and offering more training can all be effective in getting people back to work.”
DPP is to launch a campaign in the spring to help employers support the health of their employees, and to help GPs deal with sick certification more effectively.
Ben Willmott, CIPD employee relations adviser, said employers and GPs had a key role to play in working together to prevent people with long-term health problems falling out of employment and onto benefits.
“In many cases, effective communication between the employee, their GP and their employer, and the application of common sense would help people return to work in some capacity.”