If your company has ever considered employing someone with a chronic condition or disability but then started worrying about the added expense, many missed days off work or that they just will not be up to the job – this is the place for you, to hopefully change your mind and bust some myths in the process!
Myth 1: Employing someone with a long-term health condition will cost the business more to employ.
Fact: Although there may be some adaptations that need to be made to the workplace, the Access to Work Scheme funded by the Government can cover the majority of these costs with a grant which can be used for equipment, practical support, or the cost of travel. Many employers automatically envisage that those with health conditions will have access needs and major changes will be required to make the workplace accessible. However, most adjustments do not require structural changes. Less than 2% of disabled people in the UK are wheelchair users.
Our report from earlier in the year discovered that the majority of adaptations needed do not cost any money; with flexibility of hours and working times being the most likely change required (58% of our respondents) and working from home all or some of the time the next highest accommodation (46% of our respondents).
Therefore, if there are any added expenses, these generally should be covered with help from the Government. Otherwise, there are many non-costly changes that can be made that will have no impact on the company’s expenditure.
Myth 2: People with chronic illnesses will be off sick for weeks or months at a time.
Fact: The evidence suggests that this is just not the case! The number of days lost through sickness per worker for those with long-term conditions was 7.3 days a year in 2020, compared with 2.1 days for those without a long-term condition. We would expect to see this slight variation between the two groups with the extra challenges those dealing with chronic conditions face with their health.
Those with long-term conditions generally know how to manage their health, balance their commitments, and are used to carrying on with everyday life even when they are not feeling their best. Especially if ‘reasonable adjustments’ have been made in the workplace so that home-working and flexible hours are a possibility, then there shouldn’t be a marked difference between each set of colleagues.
Myth 3: The assumption that people with long-term illness will not be able to cope and deliver the work required.
Fact: An uncomfortable truth is that many people with chronic health conditions find themselves faced with prejudices and prejudgements once they have disclosed their health issues. This often includes the preconceived idea that people with chronic conditions won’t be able to handle challenging work and will be unable to carry out the tasks asked of them.
Firstly, an individual is unlikely to apply for a role that they do not think they will be able to fulfil. If they have the necessary qualifications and skills for the job, then in some ways their health issues are irrelevant! In reality, employing someone who is used to dealing with a condition where they may come across many obstacles and challenges, makes them a very resourceful, determined, and adaptable employee.
We would be really interested to hear if there are any other preconceptions that you, your company, or society in general may have around this topic so that we can bust some more myths!
(Article written by Hannah Emery)