Employers are still not doing enough to adjust their workplaces to accommodate people with disabilities or long-term health conditions, despite the government making it tougher for such people to get benefits.
A poll of 600 employers by consultancy Aon has found that a fifth did not know about government moves to encourage employers to report on health and wellness in the workplace and to reform welfare benefits, particularly the replacement of incapacity benefit with employment and support allowance, and the encouragement of welfare claimants to undertake more work-related activity.
Nearly two-thirds had no plans to amend their current sickness and absence benefits as a result – for example, by actively promoting return-to-work strategies or providing income protection, the poll also found.
From next year, more than 2.6 million people currently claiming incapacity benefit will have to undergo more stringent work capability tests, as the government looks to reduce its benefits bill and get more people who are able to work back into the workforce.
Matthew Lawrence, senior consultant at Aon Consulting, said: “The protection of an employee’s health, safety and wellness is becoming an increasingly important socio-political issue, with employers being expected to shoulder more of the responsibility when it comes to keeping ‘sick’ employees in work and out of the benefits system.”