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Where prevention fails people suffering major injuries have only a one in six chance of getting back to work. According to the Health and Safety Executive, 27,000 people each year leave work forever because of a workplace injury or illness. They can exchange their jobs, their health and their wages for poverty and disability.

Simple measures could reduce the length of time workers are off sick and could reduce lost income and protect jobs. A survey of Swedish firms showed that job retention measures paid for themselves within one to two years.

TUC has called for a legal requirement for employers to have a rehabilitation policy framework in place.

Occupational health schemes can have a major effect in preventing ill health through work and in ensuring that people are able to return to work as early as possible. Unfortunately, The UK is failing to meet its minimum legal duty under the European-wide health and safety Framework Directive. This binding law requires that all workers have access to preventive occupational health services.

Workers have some job protection during recovery from illness or injury, for example, as long as an unforeseen event hasn't rendered "all further employment permanently impossible" an employer cannot fairly dismiss a sick worker.

However, a TUC survey found UK workers have the unhealthy habit of working when sick, a habit known as "presenteeism" brought on by an undue pressure to work when sick, which can have the consequence of lowering productivity and increasing sickness levels.


TUC guide - How to stop the £14 billion workplace injury drain

TUC rehabilitation guide:

Hazards rehabilitation web pages:

Hazards sickness absence pages:

CAW Return to work checklist - Health, Safety and Environment Newsletter May/June 2002

The most recent documents available on this subject are:

TUC welcomes well-being at work report
Welcoming the publication of Dame Carol Black's report today (Monday) on work, health and well-being, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “There is currently insufficient support for people who are off work because they are ill or injured and the TUC agrees with Dame Carol that more needs to be done to encourage those on long term benefits back into the labour market. This is best done by doing more to prevent workplace accidents and illnesses, and by giving ill or injured workers early access to rehabilitation.
17 March 2008

Insurers call for tax breaks for work rehab
The body representing insurers has called for new tax incentives to improve the UK's poor record on rehabilitating employees who are injured or fall ill in the workplace.
PDF version available for download
26 May 2006

HSE pushes rehab and sickness action
The Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) is urging manufacturing firms to take action on sickness absence and rehabilitation.
PDF version available for download
20 January 2006

Managing sickness absence in the public sector
Welcoming the report from the Department for Work and Pensions and the Health and Safety Executive on managing sickness absence in the public sector, TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: “The TUC supports positive efforts to reduce sickness absence, but believes these are most effective when targetted at preventing illness and supporting the rehabilitation of those workers who are off sick.
8 December 2004

London seeks to lead Britain in the challenge to secure better health and safety at work
A world class city must have world class workplaces, that means aspiring to and achieving world class standards of health and safety at work – not for some, but for all. And the roadmap for turning that dream into a reality includes there being a health and safety rep in every workplace in London and a positive and meaningful partnership between that rep, the employer, unions and the Health and Safety Executive. Those are the key messages from an event (today) organised by HSE London and the Southern and Eastern Region TUC for more than 200 London based health and safety reps.
19 November 2004

TUC backs push to help injured and ill workers stay in work
Commenting on the government's framework for workplace rehabilitation published today (Wednesday) Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, said: “Ill health and injury caused by work forces thousands of employees to leave their jobs every year. Too many of them give up work completely because, although they may win compensation from employers, they don't get help getting fit for work.
27 October 2004

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The quality of working life: promoting a healthy agenda

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Sheffield Occupational Health Advisory Service (SOHAS)

Please also see the complete list of web site links.