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Rehabilitation, return to work and inclusivity policy position

Summary

Good work is good for people’s health and wellbeing. Among other key elements, this means work that's safe, supportive and accommodates people's needs. Employers should ensure that workers who have / develop conditions that require support or who are absent due to injury or ill health, are given assistance to join, remain in or safely return to sustainable work.

For organisations, effective rehabilitation and return-to-work (RTW) strategies have the twin benefits of increasing inclusivity and diversity at work and helping ensure that those with health conditions and disabilities can fulfil their potential. We also know that positive perceptions about work have been linked with higher productivity, profitability and customer and worker loyalty.

The facts

  • According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) people with disabilities make up an estimated one billion, or 15 per cent, of the world's population. About 80 per cent are of working age.
  • The International Social Security Association (ISSA) estimates the economic return for spend on work reintegration and rehabilitation and the average return-on-investment ratio for employers is 3.7. Therefore, for every dollar invested, employers realize an average return of over three times the initial investment.
  • World Health Organization and the World Bank global figures linked to disability management show that 5 of the 20 leading health conditions relate to mental health issues. The World Economic Forum alert of the importance of tackling common mental disorders (CMDs), such as anxiety, stress and depression and its impact in terms of lost productivity and sickness absence. Currently 700 million people worldwide are estimated to have a mental disorder.
  • Revised research by the Institute for Work and Health outlines 7 principles for return-to-work (RTW) and concludes that employers, insurers and workers play key roles.
  • Eurostat has determined that in 2018, 36.1% of the EU-28 population aged 16 and over reported having a long-standing illness or health problem.
  • CIPD highlights that properly managed rehabilitation and RTW can reduce pain and suffering, minimise or eliminate long-term disability, and help people RTW quickly and safely.
  • IOSH is a member of the UK’s Council for Work and Health, which provides guidance aimed at GPs on work modifications.

Our position

As the world of work accommodates demographic changes and people stay in the labour market longer, and as the number of people with health conditions and disabilities increases, rehabilitation and RTW programmes are gaining momentum.

Good work is good for people’s health and wellbeing. Among other key elements, this means work that's safe, supportive and accommodates people's needs. Employers should ensure that workers who have / develop conditions that require support or who are absent due to injury or ill health, are given assistance to join, remain in or safely return to sustainable work.

For organisations, effective rehabilitation and return-to-work strategies have the twin benefits of increasing inclusivity and diversity at work and helping ensure that those with health conditions and disabilities can fulfil their potential. We also know that positive perceptions about work have been linked with higher productivity, profitability and customer and worker loyalty.  

This policy position encourages integrated and sustainable rehabilitation and RTW policies and practices that support those who have physical / mental health conditions or disability with the potential to affect functional limitations, impairment and sickness absence.

IOSH advocates that rehabilitation and RTW policies should be part of a wider employer health, safety and wellbeing strategy geared towards a human-centred, worker-friendly work environment. Such interventions should be tailored to the worker’s needs and abilities.

IOSH resources

IOSH-commissioned research

Relevant IOSH consultations responses

  • IOSH response to the International Social Security Association 2020-22 programme, ISSA, 2020 (available on request from publicaffairs@iosh.com)
  • IOSH response to Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s, Cabinet Office and DHSC, 2019
  • IOSH response to Health is everyone’s business, DWP and DHSC, 2019
  • IOSH response to the National Institute for Health and Care excellence NICE - Workplace health: long-term sickness absence and capability to work, 2019 
  • (available on request from publicaffairs@iosh.com)
  • IOSH response to Her Majesty’s Treasury Implementation of tax exemption for employer expenditure on health-related interventions HMT, 2013 
  • (available on request from publicaffairs@iosh.com)
  • IOSH response to the Department of Health consultation on Long-term conditions – developing a cross-government strategy DoH, 2012
  • IOSH response to the Department of Health consultation on Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Towards a workforce strategy for the public health system,  DoH, 2012
  • IOSH submission on Health at work – an independent review of sickness absence, DWP, 2012
  • IOSH response to the Department of Health consultation Healthy Lives, Healthy People: our strategy for public health in England, DoH, 2011
  • IOSH response to the Health, Work and Wellbeing Directorate consultation on Reforming the medical statement, HWWD, 2009
  • IOSH response to the GMC consultation on Tomorrow’s Doctors 2009 and New Doctors GMC, 2009
  • IOSH response to the DWP Green Paper consultation No one written off: reforming welfare and rewarding responsibility DWP, 2008
  • IOSH response to Dame Carol Black's call for evidence for her Review of the health of Britain’s working age population, DoH and DWP, 2007
  • IOSH response to the DWP Green Paper in April 2006, A new deal for welfare: empowering people to work, DWP, 2006