A long-term health condition is defined as a condition that cannot at present be cured but can be controlled by medication and therapies. We have collated guidance and resources to help you support employees with long-term conditions.
Supporting staff with long-term health conditions helps them to return to and remain in work. This benefits an organisation in retaining a valuable member of staff and also helps with the management of sickness absence and its associated costs.
NHS Digital report that long-term mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, were the main causes for sickness absence in the NHS between May 2019 and November 2022. This has been strongly related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and is coupled by a sharp rise to approximately 122,000 healthcare workers reporting suffering from long COVID symptoms. It is critical that employers acknowledge this trend and implement initiatives to adequately support the wellbeing of staff suffering from long-term health conditions.
Our sickness absence toolkit provides practical advice on how NHS managers can support staff returning to work and/or manage staff with long-term sickness absence.
Additional guidance for supporting employees with long-term health conditions can be found on the Healthy Working Lives website.
It is important to make reasonable adjustments where applicable for staff with long-term health conditions.
The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. Managers should work closely with their human resources team to ensure that everything is done to provide the right support for the individual. Where this is not possible, employers have a legal responsibility to try and find alternative solutions such as redeploying the employee to a more suitable role they can carry out within the organisation.
Below are some resources to help managers put the right support in place for their staff:
Access to Work can help people get or stay in work if they have a physical or mental health condition or disability. The scheme provides practical support and advice to disabled people or employees with long-term conditions and employers to help overcome work related obstacles resulting from a long-term condition or disability.
The scheme pays towards any extra employment costs that result from a long-term condition or disability. It applies to any paid job, part-time or full-time, permanent or temporary. There is no minimum number of hours for eligibility for support under the scheme. It is provided where an individual requires support or adaptations beyond the reasonable adjustments, which an employer is legally obliged to provide under the Equality Act 2010.
This factsheet further explains how Access to Work can provide practical and financial support to help you overcome barriers to starting or keeping a job if you have a disability or long-term physical or mental health condition.
Below you will find dedicated advice and guidance on supporting staff with some of the key long-term health conditions in the workplace.
- Supporting recovery after long COVID.
- Supporting your NHS colleagues with long COVID- webinar.
- The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) return to work guide.
- The Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) guidance.
- The institute for employment studies (IES) toolkit.