In response to its Work, Health & Disability Green Paper consultation which closed earlier this year, the White Paper, Improving Lives: the Future of Work, Health and Disability sets out how the Government will work with employers, charities, healthcare providers and local authorities to break down employment barriers for disabled people and people with health conditions over the next decade. Prime Minister Theresa May said a person’s life and career “should not be dictated by their disability or health condition and everyone deserves the chance to find a job that’s right for them.”
The new strategy includes:
- Measures to provide access to personalised support for those with mental health issues
- Extending “fit note” certification beyond GPs to other healthcare professionals
- Reform statutory sick pay to facilitate flexible working
Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke said: “Everyone should be able to go as far as their talents can take them, but for too long disabled people and people with health conditions have been held back from getting on in work. Today we’ve set out an ambitious 10-year strategy to end this injustice once and for all. By bringing employers, the welfare system and health services together we’re taking significant steps to ensure everyone can reach their potential.”
Government is also progressing all forty recommendations of the recent Stevenson/Farmer Review of mental health and employers. This includes establishing a framework for large employers to voluntarily report on mental health and disability within their organisations. Employers are a central part of plans and encouragingly over 5,000 companies of all sizes have now signed up to the Disability Confident scheme to promote disability inclusion.
The strategies being put in place by the Government are a welcomed starting point, but we need employers to start making changes to their employment practices relating to the management of people with disabilities if their plans are to be realised. The statistics from the Government’s Green Paper show that 8% of employers recruited a person with a disability or long-term health condition over a year – clearly a lot barriers still to be broken down to increase employer disability confidence.