British Government Considers Policies to Increase Protections for Disabled Workers

Some of the proposals include new worker rights to request accommodations from employers and know sick leave policies in advance.

A group representing workplace health and safety professionals in the United Kingdom is pushing for policies that prevent Brits from losing or leaving their jobs due to disability or ill health.

Statistics from the Government’s Department for Work and Pensions and Departments of Health and Social Care show that 300,000 people in the U.K. leave work each year due to disability. That makes them 10 times more likely to leave work following long-term sick leave than people who don’t have disabilities, according to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

The British government is now considering several policies to help break down the barriers for disabled people in the workplace. Those measures include a new right for employees to request accommodations based on their health status that are not originally covered by a U.K. policy known as the “reasonable adjustments duty.”

In addition, advocates are asking for employees to have access to a “day-one” written statement from their employer stating their eligibility for sick leave and pay.

IOSH was behind many of the suggested policies, which are now receiving feedback from constituents through the government’s public consultation period.

Richard Jones, the head of policy and public affairs at IOSH, said he was encouraged by the number of measures included in the consultation that offer support to small and medium-sized businesses, vulnerable workers and self-employed people. He urged workplace and health professionals in the U.K. to provide their feedback on the proposals.

“Good work is good for health and wellbeing and sadly, work-health support has been neglected for too long,” Jones said in a statement. “We must vigorously seize this opportunity to radically transform occupational health in Britain and secure safe and healthy working lives for everyone.”

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    July/August 2019

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