With around 600,000 people with arthritis currently missing out on the opportunity to work, it is clear that finding and staying in employment can be a challenge. However, there is plenty of evidence to show that working in the right job is good for us, whether that is financially, socially or in giving us a sense of purpose and achievement.
Despite this, more than 30 million working days are lost every year in the UK due to arthritis and related conditions.
Arthritis UK is working hard to help organisations support employees with arthritis to stay in work, as well as working with the government to improve the support available to those who are returning to work, want to remain in work for longer, or who cannot work and therefore need financial support.
We know from our work in this area that there are key factors which can make a significant difference to someone with arthritis in the workplace. For example, supporting flexible working hours can mean that employees can work at times during the day when they feel at their best, or travel to and from work at off-peak times.
Arthritis is a condition which often fluctuates; a sufferer can have good days and bad days. If an employee is experiencing a flare-up, getting around can be very painful. Therefore, working from home, or working remotely from other locations, may mean they do not need to resort to taking sickness absence because they cannot get into work that day.
A further factor that can make a substantial difference to an employee’s wellbeing is having supportive and understanding managers. Training managers can be a great way to raise awareness of the impact of arthritis and how it affects people, so that they can better support their staff.
Laura Boothman is senior policy manager at Versus Arthritis