"As the number of people with long-term health conditions in the UK increases, it is imperative that employers take note and best understand how they can manage and support these people in the workplace."
- Dr Julie Denning, managing director at Working To Wellbeing and Chair of the Vocational Rehabilitation Association
In 2019, Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported almost 19m people in the UK have a long-term health condition, including cancer, heart disease, fatigue pain and Long Covid. This year, 1.9m cases of Long Covid were reported in March alone while the number of people who are economically inactive due to long-term sickness in the UK has more than doubled to over 400k – this is 26x higher than pre-Pandemic figures.
The vocational rehabilitation provider also reported that 35% of line managers in the UK don’t have a competent understanding of their organisation’s return-to-work process for employees with long-term health conditions. While 71% of line managers felt they knew how to make reasonable adjustments to support someone returning to work, 21% were unsure and 9% didn’t know how to make these adjustments. Overall, 15% of UK line managers didn’t think their organisation had implemented a strong return-to-work plan to support colleagues struggling with mental and physical health, and 34% of employees either didn’t know or didn’t have any confidence in their line manager to support them with a return-to-work process.
Commenting on these findings, Dr Julie Denning, managing director at Working To Wellbeing and Chair of the Vocational Rehabilitation Association, has said:
“As the number of people with a long-term health condition in the UK increases, it is imperative that employers take note and best understand how they can manage and support these people in the workplace.
“In our decade-long experience as a back-to-work rehabilitation specialist, the key challenge to address is that many of those affected by a long-term health condition want to either remain in or return to work when ready, and employers – in particular, line managers at the coalface whose role is pivotal to supporting their colleagues at work - need to be equipped and ready to best support their workforce.”