New research has made “a compelling case” that providing flexible working can enable employers to increase their recruitment and retention of disabled people with energy-limiting health conditions.
The Making Employment Work for People with Long-Term Conditions report, due to be published today (Thursday), is based on a survey* of more than 400 disabled people, most of them with energy-limiting conditions.
The results highlight how “pushing through fatigue” makes the health of people with energy-limiting conditions worse and increases the likelihood that they will leave the workforce permanently.
The survey results also show that the most common “fear factor” about re-entering the workplace after developing a chronic illness is “not knowing how many hours of work they could safely undertake without causing their health to deteriorate”, selected by 66 per cent of respondents.
Another major barrier to work is the failure of employers and managers to understand “the realities of long term health conditions”, the report says.
The lack of accessible jobs that take account of reduced capacity for work – such as providing flexible hours or work location – is another key barrier.
The survey found that “flexible working solutions” were “the most common form of workplace adjustment” needed by those who responded, by “a large margin”.
The report by disability charity Astriid calls on the government to commission specialist employment support services for people with long-term conditions that are “informed by knowledge of energy-limiting conditions”.
Of those surveyed, 98 per cent said fatigue and/or limited energy due to their impairment limited their ability to work, while 92 per cent believed they had skills that could be of value to an employer if a suitable job was available, while half (48 per cent) had left their previous job because the working conditions caused their health to deteriorate, and 84 per cent said they needed to work from home.
Astriid, which provides support and consultancy around employment of people with long-term conditions, says more than 2.5 million people in the UK are excluded from work due to such conditions.
Many of those who run Astriid have long-term health conditions themselves.
Catherine Hale (pictured), head of Astriid Consulting, who has an energy-limiting impairment, said: “Despite Astriid’s bespoke and valued support, we need more help and support from UK employers and we are therefore calling on them to facilitate more job opportunities with part-time, flexible hours and the ability to work from home.
“These factors should be clearly stated in job advertisements at the earliest opportunity.”
*Of the 419 survey responses, 414 said they had an energy-limiting condition and/or identified “limited energy or fatigue” as a health-related barrier to them accessing work, while 96 per cent considered themselves to be disabled people
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