Fit to Work?
“Thriving at Work”
A review commissioned by Theresa May in January 2017, published in October found that 300,000 people lose their jobs each year due to mental health related problems. The report also calls for changes to the law to make employers’ management of mental health more transparent. The report found that employers lose up to £42 billion a year due to mental health issues, while the UK economy loses up to £99 billion in total.
The review, Thriving at Work – the Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers was led by Dennis Stevenson, a mental health campaigner, and Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of the charity Mind. The review calls on employers, regardless of size or industry, to adopt six mental health core standards:
1. Produce, implement and communicate a mental health plan;
2. Develop mental health awareness among employers;
3. Encourage open conversations about mental health and provide support when employees are struggling;
4. Provide employees with good working conditions;
5. Promote effective people management;
6. Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.
The Government has also said that all 40 recommendations of the recent Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers will be progressed. The recommendations include the reform of statutory sick pay and the introduction of a framework for large employers to voluntarily report on mental health and disability within their organisations.
So who is deemed to be disabled?
A disabled person is defined as someone with a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ effect on their ability to do normal daily activities (Equality Act 2010). Employers must make reasonable adjustments to support disabled job applicants and employees. This means ensuring disabled people can overcome any substantial disadvantages they may have doing their jobs and progressing in work (Equality Act 2010).
Many reasonable adjustments involve little or no cost and could include:
• making changes to a disabled person’s working pattern
• providing training or mentoring
• making alterations to premises
• ensuring that information is provided in accessible formats
• modifying or acquiring equipment
• allowing extra time during selection ‘tests’
Find out more about what reasonable adjustments are and what you may need to do. In some cases, Access to Work, can help towards the costs of making reasonable adjustments.
Fit for Work Assessment Services to Close
“Thriving at Work”, published in October was followed by a notification this week that the Government’s Fit for Work assessment services will close next spring following low referral rates. Employers, employees and GPs will continue to be able to use the Fit for Work helpline and website for workplace health advice and support on sickness absence, but from 31 March 2018 in England and Wales, and 31 May 2018 in Scotland, assessments services will cease.
A survey by GP magazine this summer found that 65% of GPs had not referred a single patient to the Fit for Work service and that a lack of publicity was the cause of the decision to close the Government-led service.
The scrapping of Fit for Work assessments came as the Government announced ambitious plans to get one million more disabled people in work over the next 10 years.
The Disability Confident Scheme
More than 5,000 companies have now signed up to the Disability Confident scheme to promote disability inclusion. The Disability Confident scheme supports employers to make the most of the talents disabled people can bring to your workplace. Through Disability Confident, thousands of employers are:
• challenging attitudes towards disability
• increasing understanding of disability
• removing barriers to disabled people and those with long-term health conditions
• ensuring that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations
At Fusion HR we have a range of options for managers to implement, to support employees, including referrals to Occupational Health Physicians, one to one or group counselling and training on all aspects of health and wellbeing. To find out more call one of our team on 01924 827869.
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