A thinktank has called for a right-to-return-to-work period of one year for people on disability-related sickness absence or with long-term health conditions.
The Resolution Foundation’s report, ‘Retention Deficit’, makes the proposal among several others aimed at halving the disability employment rate. Currently, 46% of disabled people are unemployed compared with 34% of non-disabled people.
The foundation wants the new right to return to work within a year to be considered before a Green Paper on welfare reform is published later in 2016.
The report argues that the current welfare system is too focused on benefits and pays too little attention to employment retention.
It also says that efforts to support people with long-term conditions back to work start too late – after six months on statutory sick pay.
The report’s main proposals are:
- The expansion of the successful Access to Work Programme to maximise its role in supporting people to remain in work, including greater publicity and accessibility for employers.
- The introduction of a right-to-return period of one year from the start of sickness absence, during which employers must keep jobs open, learning from the success of the maternity policy in this country.
- A rebate on statutory sick pay costs for organisations that support their employees to make a successful return to work from long-term sickness absence.
- Early referral to the Work and Health Programme for those in receipt of statutory sick pay, for whom changing jobs is likely to represent the best chance of a successful return to work.