36% with long-term health issues find it affects their ability to work

31% of employers don't offer support for staff on long-term sick leave

Six in 10 (60%) of those facing a long-term health issue said it reduced their ability to carry out daily tasks, while 36% said it impacted the amount or type of work they were able to do within their current job role, according to research by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The research found that three-quarters (75%) of those surveyed felt that their overall health was good, but 30% had a physical or mental health condition expected to last 12 months or more.

Of those with a long-term health condition, employees (28%) were more likely than the self-employed (18%) to face mental health concerns. However, the self-employed (31%) were more likely than employees (20%) to have physical health conditions related to bones or joints.

About one-third (35%) of employees reported a sickness absence during the past 12 months.

For those receiving statutory sick pay, the financial impact (31%) was of a greater concern than it was for those receiving occupational sick pay (14%). Anecdotally, the report found that those receiving statutory pay felt the amount was too low, which would influence decisions around taking time off.

While two-thirds (64%) of employees experiencing long-term sickness had a meeting with their employer to discuss their return to work, reports were mixed as to whether this was beneficial or a tick-box exercise.

The majority (70%) of those offered phased returns to work found these facilitated a quicker return; however, those receiving statutory pay voiced concerns about the potential loss of income while working fewer hours.

Two-thirds (65%) of those long-term sick respondents who had workplace adjustments in place said that the process of getting them was easy.

Half (51%) of employees had access to occupational health services, rising to 71% in the public sector, and 69% in larger organisations. However, 74% of self-employed participants did not have access to these services.

The DWP’s concluding remarks stated: “This research provides a wealth of new data and information which is supporting the design and delivery of effective policies to improve health in the workplace and prevent ill-health related job loss.”