Occupational health care needs to be made more accessible to smaller organizations in order to increase the employment rate of people with disabilities. This was communicated to delegates to a conference on disability and health earlier this month.
According to the National Statistics Office, around 3.8 million people with a disability are employed – only 50.7% of the disabled working-age population compared to 80.1% of the non-disabled population.
While occupational health professionals are best placed to help organizations provide the adjustments that workers with physical and mental disabilities need, smaller businesses often lack the resources to invest in OH care.
Tabitha Jay, director of the Department of Shared Work and Health at the Department of Health and Social Affairs and the Department of Employment and Pensions, said the department is trying to identify what are the main barriers to employers’ access to OH supply.
She told the Westminster Employment Forum conference that half of the UK workforce did not have access to OH supplies in their workplace. The unit “worked with experts to make sure employers buy high quality offers that they can trust,” she told delegates.
Smaller employers have often been more flexible than larger organizations when it comes to making adjustments for employees with disabilities, said Sonali Parekh, director of policy at the Federation of Small Businesses.
“It’s a lot easier for a small business to use their experiences and judgments to hire someone because … they can individualize decisions,” she explained.
One way to improve smaller organizations’ access to OH could be for other companies in their supply chain to be willing to share their offerings, she suggested.
Pre-employment health care
Pre-hire health questionnaires could also be revised to help people with disabilities at work, argued Sam Murray-Hinde, partner at Howard Kennedy law firm.
“They can ask questions to see if they can perform intrinsic functions for the role, but there is little guidance on what that means. So in practice, employers don’t ask questions because it is felt to be too risky,” she said.
“As a result, [where] A health condition that can affect a person’s job. Sometimes it turns out that it has already had a negative impact [in a previous role].
“Employees can be cautious about being open about their conditions because they fear being laid off.”
Parekh urged employers to consider offering temporary employment agencies to disabled people to build their work experience. You could also move away from traditional interviews for those who may find them difficult, such as B. People with autism.
Better employment support for people with long-term illnesses should also be anchored in the healthcare system, suggested Genevieve Smyth, professional counselor at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT).
The RCOT is running a project with Public Health England that aims to have all clinicians routinely address work issues with patients, including obstacles such as working hours or transportation arrangements.
As part of the Health and Work Champions project, 55 “champions” across England are training their colleagues to improve their knowledge of the health effects of work and vice versa.
“The goal of the project is to create a culture shift in healthcare so that all clinicians will be able to adequately and sensitively pose work questions to the people they work with,” said Smyth.
“It’s another way of getting general practitioners up to speed much earlier [so they can offer earlier advice to] People when they are struggling to find employment, ”she added.