Employers have a key role to play in reducing health inequalities, a government-backed report has argued. The Marmot Review: Fair Society, Healthy Lives has suggested that, while getting into work is of critical importance when it comes to reducing health inequalities, it also needs to be “good” work.
“Jobs need to be sustainable and offer a minimum level of quality, to include not only a decent living wage, but also opportunities for in-work development, the flexibility to enable people to balance work and family life, and protection from adverse working conditions that can damage health,” the report argued.Insecure and poor-quality employment was also associated with increased risks of poor physical and mental health, it emphasised.
“There is a graded relationship between a person’s status at work and how much control and support they have there.
“These factors, in turn, have biological effects and are related to increased risk of ill health. Work is good – and unemployment bad – for physical and mental health, but the quality of work matters.
“Getting people off benefits and into low-paid, insecure and health-damaging work is not a desirable option,” it said. Alongside this, it was important that employers implemented guidance on stress management and the effective promotion of wellbeing and physical and mental health at work.
Employers need to work to develop greater security and flexibility in employment, including creating more flexibility around retirement while being encouraged or incentivised “to create or adapt jobs that are suitable for lone parents, carers and people with mental and physical health problems,” the report added.