Some 21 months after the consultation closed the government has finally published its response to the consultation Health is everyone's business: proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss. So, has the response been worth the wait? For employees struggling with health issues the answer is surely no. The consultation stated that reform is needed to increase the employment of disabled people, to keep them in work, and increase support for non-disabled employees. But the outcome is lacking in all of these areas.
Notably, the government has decided not to proceed with the proposed right to request workplace modifications for non-disabled employees, although BEIS will consult on making flexible working the default unless employers have good reasons not to do so. Similarly, there will be no changes to the rate of SSP or its eligibility criteria at this time although there is a suggestion that the future of SSP will be considered again at some point and the government is looking into an occupational health subsidy to help tackle financial barriers to purchasing OH services.
The government has also asked the Health and Safety Executive to strengthen guidance on how employers can best support disabled people and those with long-term health conditions to remain in work as well as on managing related sickness absence, but this is likely to be non-statutory guidance at least initially, limiting its impact. Whilst it is understandable that the government wants to avoid additional burdens on employers as businesses start to recover from the pandemic, many will feel this consultation response is a missed opportunity to support those with long term health issues.
Consultation outcome Government response: Health is everyone’s business Updated 23 July 2021