Long-term health conditions: some recommendations for employers

It was just two weeks ago today that Steve Herbert, Head of Benefits Strategy at Jelf was speaking at our latest sell-out London Employment Seminar. One of his themes that day was the UK’s productivity deficit, and the impact of an ageing workforce in the workplace. For coverage of some of the comments from that event please see this link.

Coincidentally The Work Foundation published this report the day after our event. The document is entitled The impact of long term conditions on employment and the wider UK economy, and the content both echoes and reinforces many of the points Steve was seeking to articulate. We would encourage employers to take a look at the report in detail.

That said, we thought it worth highlighting some key points from the text for our blog followers: “Long-term conditions cannot be cured but can affect individuals throughout their working life.  The number of people experiencing at least one long term condition is estimated to rise above 17 million in the coming decades…  It is also predicted that by 2018, 2.9 million people will have multiple long-term conditions in the UK.

“The economic case for enabling individuals with long term conditions to access and remain in work is clear and could lead to a reduction in welfare expenditure, increased income tax receipts, reduced sickness absence and greater organisational productivity. At a time when UK labour productivity lags behind its European neighbours, the health of the workforce becomes critical.”

 The report also evidences why this is a growing problem for the UK: “There are three broad trends that significantly contribute to the growing burden arising from long term conditions:

  • The ageing population. In the UK there are almost twice as many people aged 50 – 69 years or more that there are aged 15-24 years.  With ageing comes a greater risk of poor health and premature withdrawal from the labour market.
  • The pension crisis. The difficulty in paying for pensions due to a difference between pension obligations and the resources set aside to fund them, means that workers will need to work for longer to fund their retirement.
  • The growing burden of chronic disease. This means that the productive capacity of the workforce risks being compromised by ill-health.”

And last, but certainly not least, the document includes some recommended actions for government, the NHS, workers and (of course) employers to help tackle this issue. For completeness we include all the recommendations for employers below:

  • “Employer and business trade associations should acknowledge the significant challenge facing the UK labour market as the workforce ages and develops more chronic illness, and seek to provide leadership in partnership with the government, the NHS, businesses, trade unions and employees to implement solutions.
  • All employers should seek to make reasonable adjustments for employees to support the varying needs of people with long term fluctuating conditions.
  • Workplaces should provide an open and supportive environment so that individuals feel comfortable about disclosing their condition and seeking support.
  • Employers should be made aware of the specialist support available, for example how the involvement of occupational therapists, physiotherapists and the Fit for Work service and Access to Work scheme could help get the best work outcomes for them and their employees.”

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So plenty for pro-active employers to mull over and enact here we think.

For the full original article and other similar posts, please visit the Jelf Group blog.