Disability Related Absence

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2014 National Disabled Members' Conference
23 June 2014
Carried as Amended

At Conference just last year UNISON attacked the government’s obsession with sickness rates, after figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that days lost due to sickness absence fell from 178 million in 1993 to 131 million in 2013.

The figures also showed that the differences in absence rates between the public and private sectors have narrowed, and that where you live and work is a far more likely cause of poor health and high absence rates than what sector you work in, however these figures all refer to general sickness absence.

That same year when commenting on the Government’s response to the Black/Frost report on sickness absence Karen Jennings, UNISON Assistant General Secretary welcomed the recognition that there is currently little support for either employees or employers on the early stages of sickness absence.

However Conference, whilst we resolutely believe that all employees should be supported at all stages of sickness absence we believe that when it comes to disability related absence both employee and employers are even less supported.

We believe that members who have disability related absences should be treated in a fair and supportive manner and that all employers should have policies that directly cover this and are separate to other absences from work.

Our colleagues should not be driven to attend work when ill and potentially cause themselves more stress and physical pain because they fear losing their jobs. In the present climate of cuts in both jobs and benefits disabled people are even more at risk of being unfairly targeted for redundancy and subject to capability procedures.

Conference therefore asks that the National Disabled Members Committee works with all appropriate sections within UNISON together with like minded and appropriate organisations to:

1)Produce a model disability related absence policy that becomes the focus on which to build a campaign to seek its recognition by all employers covered by UNISON.

2)Continue to fight the discrimination of disabled members in the workplace.

3)Report back progress on this to Conference in 2015.