date: 17 February 2011
embargo: for immediate release
Commenting on the government announcement today (Thursday) that Dame Carol Black and David Frost are to carry out an independent review into sickness absence, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
'If this were to be a genuine attempt to support those on long-term sickness get back to work then the TUC would welcome it with open arms. However we are concerned that it will end up as just another part of the government's cost-saving onslaught on the income and rights of those at work, and those on benefits.
'The fact that the review is being conducted by a leading voice of employers' interests, with no corresponding involvement from unions representing workers affected by sickness absence, gives us little confidence in the outcome.
'You do not get workers back to work by cutting their access to benefits or pay. You get them back by providing access to early rehabilitation and supporting those who have been ill for a long time by giving them the confidence to return.
'The other way to reduce the number of people on long term sick leave is to prevent them from becoming sick in the first place, but the cuts in the budgets of the Health and Safety Executive, and the fall in enforcement activity from local authority safety inspectors mean more employers can get away with running unsafe and unhealthy workplaces.'
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Issued: 17 February, 2011