A leading arthritis charity has warned that many people with arthritis or related conditions are being forced out of work because they are not getting the support they need from their employers.
According to a poll by Versus Arthritis – a charity that was recently created by the merger of Arthritis Research UK and Arthritis Care – more than a third of people with arthritis are currently out of work. Furthermore, a fifth of out of work arthritis sufferers left their previous jobs because they felt their employers did not make the adjustments they required.
It’s a problem that’s been compounded by the fact many people with arthritis are simply unaware of the support that’s available to them, and is designed to help keep them in work.
For example, of the 1,582 people surveyed by the charity, over half (59%) said they did not know about the government’s Access to Work scheme. It’s just one example of schemes designed to support workers, fund specialist work equipment, help with transport to and from work, and provide mental health support services for people with an eligible condition.
The findings of the poll have prompted Versus Arthritis to urge the government to do more to promote schemes that are designed to help people living with arthritis or related conditions.
According to the charity’s survey, just 63% of people with arthritis were in employment. More than a third (35%) had been forced to cut their working hours; a quarter (26%) had changed the type of work they did; and 19% had no other option but to give up work entirely or take early retirement because of their condition.
Of most concern is the finding that despite employers having a legal obligation to make adjustments to help ensure employees with arthritis are not discriminated against or disadvantaged at work, 51% of workers said their employer had failed to do this.
While 59% of people polled had never heard of the Access to Work scheme, a further 10% said they had, but they did not know what it was. Versus Arthritis is now encouraging people with arthritis to lobby their local MPs and get more awareness of the scheme promoted in parliament.
Morgan Vine, campaigns manager at Versus Arthritis said: “Despite arthritis and related conditions resulting in over 30 million lost working days each year – 20% of all sickness absence in the UK – our survey shows very clearly that not enough is being done to ensure that people with arthritis are being fully supported in work, and many are unaware of their rights or where to access support. This simply isn’t good enough.
“The Access to Work scheme can provide some of this much needed support, but it’s currently falling short. The UK is experiencing its highest levels of employment in almost fifty years, yet only 63% of people with arthritis are in the workplace, compared to 81% of working age adults without a health problem.”
Hopefully, the findings of this survey will go some way to raising awareness about the struggles many individuals living with arthritis face, including in the workplace.
I joined Premier Choice Group as a Healthcare & Protection Consultant in 2017, where I now look after the needs of over 200 clients nationwide. Prior to joining the Premier Choice Group, I worked for a large Private Healthcare Insurer, VitalityHealth, and managed SME and Individual clients across the country.