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Employees with long-term conditions and health concerns should be given more rights so they can return to work, according to the Resolution Foundation.
A report produced by the organsiation concludes that companies need to extend their current policies offering return to work options for those returning after childbirth to cover workers with ongoing health issues.
New mothers are legally allowed to return to work within a 12-month period, but there is not the same protection for other employees who have been off on long-term sick.
According to the latest data, just 2.4 per cent of disabled workers who have spent a year or more away from the workplace will return to employment.
“The government should learn from the success of maternity policy by introducing a statutory ‘right to return’ period of one year from the start of sickness absence,” said the study.
“This would introduce a clearly demarcated period of time, extending beyond the current statutory sick pay period, during which employers would keep the same job available to return to – or an equivalent one – as in the second six months of maternity leave.”
Technology such as time and attendance software could enable employers to track those on alternative working schedules.