Long-term sick leave: look at the causes not the symptoms

From Inkyworld by Ineke Poultney:

Can someone please tell me why we seem to be going around in the same old circles? Whilst you are at it can someone please explain to the Her Majesty’s Government that they are dealing with human beings and not robots which can be rebooted when their programming is corrupted for any reason?

First we have terminally ill people who are classified as fit to work. Then we have someone with Cerebral Palsy who is informed that their condition is likely to improve.

Meanwhile, we have disabled people who are forced to take any job going just to get them off Social Security (whether or not the jobs are suitable for them).

The latest victims of the Government’s crazy “Scheme for Full Employment” is those people who are off work sick for more than a month who are being forced to go back to work. This may even mean going back to the same workplace and the same conditions which made them take longterm sickleave in the first place.

I actually have experience of Longterm Sickness removing me from my workplace. In my last job circumstances led me to take 8 weeks off work due to depression (I actually seriously considered suicide as a means of trying to get away from one of my bosses). Against my better judgement I ended up going back to my old job (and suffering the same treatment that led me to take the time off in the first place). It was only when the Company was going into Administration that I actually felt happy in my job – due to the threat to my sanity having been removed. (To be perfectly honest – my experience in my last job is actually why I want to make a go of making money from writing – this should give me a chance to do something I love and work for someone who understands me and how I operate – as in myself.)

The question the Government should be asking is not what can we do to get people off “Longterm Sickleave” but how can we ensure they don’t go on “Longterm Sickleave” in the first place?

It may be a case of strengthening laws against Discrimination (as was partially the reason in my case), it may be a case of giving people a way of blowing the whistle on bad practice (I know from painful personal experience how difficult that is if you are working for a small family run firm). It may be a case of forcing companies to respect the needs of the workforce when it comes to alterations in their job description, etc (especially when it comes to people with Mental Health issues). Or it may just be a case of ensuring that people feel comfortable taking adequate time off for holidays or minor illnesses so they feel fully rested.

We need to have a complete culture shift in how work and employment are seen in relation to the rest of someone’s life. If someone gets to the point where they honestly feel that a Monday doesn’t finish until hometime on a Friday there must be something seriously wrong. The same with someone going to sleep every night hoping they don’t wake up so they can avoid having to go to work ever again. (Yes – I have honestly experienced both of those feelings.)

Rather than the Government forcing people to go to work – whether or not they are in a fit state to carry out their duties – they should be looking into ways of improving the pay, terms, and conditions faced by the employees.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not on the side of the skivers, bone idle, or those who think that the world owes them a living just for being born. They should be punished and sanctioned.

I am on the side of the hardworking humans (both employed and unemployed) who seem to be paying for the actions of those who don’t want to work.

Those of us who do want to work may face barriers which the rest of the population do not understand – in most cases those barriers could be removed by the Government changing their policies (and tightening quite a few laws up).

From where I am standing there seems to be a lot of condemnation of the wrong people – instead of picking on those of us who are suffering (and have suffered) in the workplace they should be picking on theose people who are causing the suffering.

After all, a happy workforce is a productive workforce.

See more of Ineke’s writing at Inkyworld:



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