Long-term sick employees should have right to ‘return to work’

Employees with long-term health conditions and disabilities should have the same rights as new mums, to return to work within a year, study says…

A report by The Resolution Foundation is aimed at improving the employment rate of people with disabilities and calls for a 12-month ‘right to return’ period from the start of sickness absence to help stem the flow of disabled people leaving the jobs market.

The study revealed that just 2.4 per cent of disabled people who had been out of work for more than a year went back into employment each quarter.

According to the think tank, 46 per cent of disabled people were currently in jobs, compared to 80 per cent of non-disabled people.

The study said: “The government should learn from the success of maternity policy by introducing a statutory ‘right to return’ period of one year from the start of sickness absence.

“This would introduce a clearly demarcated period of time, extending beyond the current statutory sick pay period, during which employers would keep the same job available to return to – or an equivalent one – as in the second six months of maternity leave.”

Disability Rights UK, said the recommendation to keep jobs open for a year, deserved “the fullest consideration”.

A spokesperson for the campaigning body said: “Getting this right is also essential for employers if they are to retain and attract the best talent.

“Keeping in touch with staff who are off with a health condition, reassuring people their job is there for them, making any adjustments needed quickly and smoothly: all these measures help, and there are expert disabled people who understand the challenges and solutions in-depth who can advise and assist.”


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