From the TUC

Back to Black! Making the business case for job retention

01 Dec 2011, by in Labour market

So far removed from all that we went through
And I tread a troubled track
My odds are stacked I’ll go back to black

In these few short words, Amy Winehouse sang of the distance between her and her experiences. Perhaps consumed by what Churchill called ‘the black dog’ of depression, she sang ‘I’ll go back o black’. It could be, however, that it’s the work of Dame Carol Black we need to go back to, her Review of the Health of the¬†Working-age Population from 2008.

Dame Carol is the Government’s czar on the health of the working age population, and it’s her ultimate goal that everyone should have access to work-related health support. Amy Winehouse famously sang that she didn’t want to go to rehab, but of course her legions of fans and well-wishers did want her to go. Many people may think that rehab is simply for the drink or drug problems of the rich and famous, but that’s because for most employees there is no vocational rehabilitation available to them. Vocational rehabilitation is simply whatever helps someone with a health problem to stay at, return to or remain in work:

an idea and an approach as much as an intervention or a service.

Sometimes that intervention can be as simple as saying “Stop – don’t resign, lets find out if anything can be done”.

Yet even that simple service fails to be delivered.

The result is that people of working age losing their sight are commonly also losing their jobs. Neither they nor their employers realise there is any other option. The good news is that, with her encouragement, RNIB has risen to Black’s challenge. A report on the business case for vocational rehabilitation has now been published by the RNIB Group. Vocational rehabilitation: The business case for retaining newly disabled staff).

The cost-benefit ratio was found to be never less than 2.5:1. The ratio is significant, in that it exceeds the ratio used as the threshold for justifying new regulation, or the threshold used for sanctioning investment in state-sponsored infrastructure such as road building. The information contained is designed to support businesses or the affected employees to do the calculations themselves.

The findings have some long-term implications for the success of Government policy too. Firstly, with the state retirement age set to increase there will be more disabled people in the workforce. Secondly the providers of employment support are rewarded not just for achieving job outcomes but for keeping people in work too meaning that they may also look to Government for more support on job retention.

GUEST POST: Philip Connolly is the employment campaigns officer for the RNIB Group. His campaign portfolio includes improving the support and removing the barriers to the employment prospects of blind and partially sighted people. He also leads for the charity on the Hire Vision campaign to promote positive attitudes amongst employers towards disabled people and to partner with them to grow the Social Firm sector. He also recently launched the disability resilience network to promote the resilient qualities of disabled people to the structures and organisations within our society needing to become more resilient themselves.