Staff with long-term conditions should be able to return to work, says report

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Resolution Foundation has stated that copying maternity policies and re-applying them could boost employment for workers with disabilities and ongoing health conditions.

Employees with long-term health problems should have the same right as new mothers to return to their employer within a year the report states and calls for a 12-month ‘right to return’ period from the start of sickness absence to help stem the flow of disabled people fleeing the job market.

The report revealed that just 2.4 percent of disabled people who had been out of work for more than a year went back into employment. This is a marked fall from the 15.5 percent of people who had been in a job in the last year.

The Retention Deficit Report called for the government to pursue a ‘damage prevention’ approach to boosting disabled employment, focusing on keeping people in jobs.

“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,” said the study.

“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.”

The report said contact between employers and employees, and notices of return to work, could operate in a similar fashion to maternity leave. Dismissals on sickness grounds would not be permitted within the year, except where an employee actively disengaged from support and rehabilitation.

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