Below is the text of the statement made by Justin Tomlinson, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work in the House of Commons on 15 July 2019.
I would like to make the following statement on behalf of myself and the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Jackie Doyle-Price).
Today, my Department, in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care, will publish a consultation on proposals to reduce health-related job loss.
As people live and work for longer, more employees are disabled or have long-term health conditions. There are significant and well evidenced benefits for employers, individuals and Government if health-related job loss can be reduced.
For employers, offering flexibility, early support and occupational health advice are the key to successful retention. Employers are best placed to take the early preventative measures that are most effective. There are large variations in employers’ capability and capacity to act with large firms five times more likely to provide occupational health when compared to small firms.
Each year more than 100,000 people leave their job following a period of sickness absence lasting at least four weeks. Survey evidence shows that 44% of people who had been off sick for a year then left employment altogether.
The proposals set out in this consultation include:
Amending the legal framework to encourage workplace modifications and early action to support individuals on sickness absence leave;
Reforming statutory sick pay so that it is better enforced, more flexible and covers the lowest paid and potentially, rewards effective action with a new rebate;
Improving access to occupational health services with additional support for small employers including a potential subsidy;
Government to provide best practice advice and support for employers on managing health and disability in the workplace.
The evidence and views gathered during this consultation will be used to develop our proposals further and understand the impact of the changes on both employers and employees.