Employing and supporting workers with long-term health conditions: what are the challenges for employers…and what are the solutions?

June 01, 2016 - 12:00am

Employing and supporting workers with long-term health conditions: what are the challenges for employers…and what are the solutions?

Invitation to attend a free knowledge exchange workshop:
Friday 8th July 12.30-4.30pm, Lancaster House Hotel, Lancaster

Approximately 15million individuals in the UK have a long-term health condition and around half of the UK workforce will have at least one long-term health condition by 20301. Sickness absence alone costs employers and taxpayers an estimated £22 billion a year. Workers with long-term health conditions and disabilities are at risk of unemployment, long-term sick leave and retiring early, leading to financial strain and further ill-health. For organisations, absenteeism results in reduced productivity, the need to reallocate work tasks and recruit new staff.

Government initiatives such as the Fit Note and Fit for Work Service emphasise the role of employers in supporting workers with disabilities and long-term conditions to remain in work by implementing workplace adjustments. While research identifying the difficulties facing workers with long-term conditions is important, employers’ perspectives are crucial in identifying barriers to the implementation of workplace adjustments and the types of support employers themselves need.

Dr Paula Holland (Lecturer in Public Health) and Dr Alison Collins (Lecturer in Organizational Health and Wellbeing) at Lancaster University are keen to explore employers’ perspectives on these issues. We are hosting a knowledge exchange workshop to explore a number of issues, including:

• What kind of support and information do employers need to employ and retain workers with long-term health conditions or disabilities?
• Should early return to work from sick leave be encouraged to reduce sickness absence and help retention?
• What are the circumstances in which workplace adjustments are implemented? What are the barriers to their implementation and how might they be overcome?

Participants will be invited to suggest practical solutions to the issues raised and identify recommendations for employers, line managers, HR professionals, and government.

Who should attend?
Employers, line managers and HR professionals keen to share their experiences of supporting workers with long-term health conditions or disabilities, or who are concerned about how they might cope if they find themselves in this position. All contributions offered by workshop participants will be treated confidentially: the Chatham House Rule will be in operation throughout the event (https://www.chathamhouse.org/about/chatham-house-rule)

What are the benefits for businesses in attending?
Participating in the workshop is an opportunity to contribute to the work of the Arthritis Research UK/Medical Research Council National Centre of Excellence for Musculoskeletal Health and Work. The issues raised will feed into research on employers’ experiences of supporting workers with long-term conditions and disabilities.

Date and venue
The workshop will be held on Friday 8th July at the Lancaster House Hotel, Green Lane, Lancaster LA1 4GJ. The event will start at 12.30pm with a hot lunch and will end at approximately 4.30pm.

If you are interested in attending, please email Paula Holland for more information: p.j.holland@lancaster.ac.uk