Statutory Sick Pay reforms part of disabled workers’ support plans

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Statutory Sick Pay will be reformed under new measures to better support people with disabilities and long-term health conditions.

Announced by Theresa May ahead of her departure as Prime Minister next month, plans include reforming Statutory Sick Pay so it can be better enforced, allows a phased return to work, and covers those on the lowest wages.

It will form part of a package of proposals to improve the lives of those with long-term conditions or disabilities, which will be consulted on next month.

Other proposals include:

  • offering small and medium employers a conditional rebate to support those who manage staff on sickness absence get back to work
  • new rights for employees to request workplace modifications on health grounds
  • higher accessibility standards for housing, which could help deliver up to 300,000 adaptable and accessible homes every year
  • the formation of a cross-government disability team to help inform on policy for disabled people.

Mike Cherry, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, said government support for organisations that employ people with disabilities was crucial.

“It’s good to see government consulting on an SSP rebate and support in accessing occupational health as part of a comprehensive package,” he said.

May said around a fifth of the working population is living with a disability. According to disability charity Scope, half of disabled people feel excluded from society, while people with a disability face an additional £583 in costs per month, on average.

May said: “I am proud to announce new measures to break down barriers faced by disabled people, whether in employment, housing or elsewhere.

“We all have a crucial role – businesses, government and civil society – in working together to ensure that disabled people get the support they need, and go as far as their talents can take them.”

Richard Kramer, chief executive at disability charity Sense, said: “For too long now, disability policy has been focused on what benefits or services disabled people do or don’t access, rather than the lives they want, and have a right to lead.

“Equality for disabled people is everyone’s business and cuts across all areas of policy and life, which is why we have been calling for and welcome this new cross government approach.”

In April, Scope became the first organisation to publicise the experiences, health and wellbeing of its disabled employees. Almost one in five respondents to its 2018 staff survey has an impairment, condition or identifies as disabled.

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