Prime Minister outlines workplace health advice and disability support road map

Improving advice on workplace health for employers, widening fit note certification and more dedicated training for work coaches are at the heart of the Government’s roadmap for disability employment, which will be published later today.

The roadmap, which sets out measures to help people with disabilities remain in work and get back into work, includes a call to extend fit note certification beyond GPs to a wider group of healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists, psychiatrists and senior nurses. Fit notes are designed to help patients develop a return to work plan tailored to their individual needs.

The strategy, called ‘Improving Lives: the Future of Work, Health and Disability’, follows last year’s Work, Health and Disability Green Paper, which called for a comprehensive change to the UK’s approach to disability employment. The Government has published an outline of its policy intentions but a detailed paper, responding to the Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers, will be published later today.

That will include a detailed response to the 40 recommendations of the Stevenson/Farmer Review of mental health and employers, ‘including reforming Statutory Sick Pay, improving advice and support for employers and encouraging transparency’.

The DWP will also conduct large-scale employment research pilots in the West Midlands and Sheffield covering 11,000 people to gather evidence to help improve services for those with health conditions and support them get into and stay in work.
There will also be £39m more in funding for NHS employment advisers for those with depression and anxiety disorders

The DWP is also bringing together an Expert Working Group on Occupational Health to ‘champion, shape and drive a programme of work to take an in-depth look at the sector’.

Prime Minister Theresa May says: “We recognise the hugely positive impact that working can have on people’s health and wellbeing, which is why we are determined to break down the barriers to employment facing disabled people.”

Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke says: “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.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says: “Mental ill health can affect anyone, from any walk of life at any time. For too long society has dictated that people with physical and mental health issues or a disability are a burden. Ensuring that more people with disabilities or long-term health conditions can get into and stay in work would not only enhance their lives, but actually enrich our economy too.”

Fujitsu diversity and inclusion lead Sarah Kaiser says: “It is fantastic to see the Government is committing to seeing more disabled people enter the workplace. Fujitsu has significantly benefited from being Disability Confident, giving us access to untapped pools of talent and enabling us to increase our retention of employees with disabilities.

“We have also worked with our employees with disabilities to ensure our products and services become even more accessible, benefitting our customers too. This is not just the right thing for employees, but also significantly helps the employer.”