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Return to work plan cannot be ignored, says IOSH

20 February 2023

IOSH HAS responded to a new plan announced by Jonathan Ashworth, shadow work and pensions secretary, to get more people with health conditions and disabilities into work.

In a statement, Ruth Wilkinson, IOSH head of policy said, “With the size of the UK workforce still well below pre-Covid levels, the announcement by shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth of his party’s plans to support more people with health conditions and disabilities to return to work cannot be ignored. It comes at a time when long-standing health issues among workers are becoming significant for regulators and employers.

“Mr Ashworth referred to a “monumental waste of human potential” and the need to help people find appropriate and supportive work that is good for them, for society and the economy.

“He also pointed to the benefits to these individuals, the way good, supportive work can empower their health by growing their independence, inclusion and sense of fulfilment. This includes the two-thirds of those out of work with ill-health who live with mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.

“But I see an onus on employers here to have the right policies and processes in place and to explore any adjustments they can make to the workplace, to working arrangements, or through the provision of equipment, support or services to accommodate the needs of disabled workers. This will help each worker to work, stay in work, return to work and perform to the best of their ability, which can only be good for the employer.

“There’s much work to be done here to find the workers the UK economy needs to thrive and deliver a decent quality of life and decent, sustainable work for everyone. Plans should focus on helping older workers, disabled people and those with limiting health conditions to enable them to gain paid work. These individuals have so much to offer – for themselves, their families and for us all.”