Tabitha Jay on how government is improving prospects for those with long-term health issues
Last year, we published Thriving at work: The Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers that highlighted the importance of addressing mental health at work, and also Improving Lives: The Future of Work, Health and Disability, which sets out the government’s commitment to see a million more disabled people in work over the next decade.
This report accepted the recommendations from the Stevenson/Farmer review and sets out the action we will take across three settings – welfare, the workplace and the health system – to transform employment prospects for disabled people and people with long-term health conditions.
Government wants to work in partnership with employers of all sizes to help them to draw fully on the talents of disabled people, and experience the rich business opportunities of creating healthy and inclusive workplaces where all can thrive and progress.
As this report demonstrates, many employers already have a strong track record in this area and we want to learn from their success and support others to do more.
Our action will focus on:
- improving advice and support for employers of all sizes, in particular SMEs
- increasing transparency through voluntary reporting on mental health, wellbeing and disability for large employers
- reforming statutory sick pay
- reviewing what the right incentives and expectations for employers are
- ensuring the civil service is a leading employer and implements the Stevenson/Farmer recommendations.
The government provides a range of support to employers to help them recruit and retain disabled people and people with health conditions including the Disability Confident campaign and the Access to Work scheme, which has a specific Mental Health Support Service. We will continue to raise awareness of this support and develop Access to Work and Disability Confident to meet the needs of employers.
Movement for change
Disability Confident, which already has 5,500 signatories, intends to create a movement for change – encouraging employers to think differently about disability and helping to build the confidence and skills they need to improve how they recruit, retain and develop disabled workers.
Improving mental health support in the workplace is a key focus across government, and for our stakeholders. The Stevenson/Farmer review recommended core mental health standards for all employers to adopt to support their employees, as well as enhanced mental health standards for large employers and the public sector. We encourage all employers to take up these mental health standards and to consider what they can do to support the mental health and wellbeing of their workforce.
Tabitha Jay is director, Work and Health Unit and Office for Disability Issues at the Department for Work & Pensions
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