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Gov launches flexible working initiative

29 June 2012

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Employers are being urged to follow a government initiative to provide more flexible working arrangements to people with mental health needs.

The Work Foundation scheme, launched by Health Minister Lord Howe, allows employees to take a “flexible approach” to shift patterns, make a “phased” return to work, and job share.

Manufacturing umbrella body EEF, EDF Energy have already signed up to a new Responsibility Deal pledge to help manage and support employees with mental health needs.

It is claimed mental health conditions cost UK businesses £8.4bn in sickness absence and a further £15.1bn in lost productivity.

“For business, economic and moral reasons, it is important that employers play their part in supporting people with such conditions to retain their jobs, and when they are absent in enabling them to return to work as soon as they can,” said Dame Carol Black, Chair of the Responsibility Deal health at work network.

“Thoughtful, well informed management in respect of employees’ mental and physical health can produce real benefits.  Besides reduced sickness absence those benefits include better staff engagement, improved productivity, and reduced staff turnover.
“Making small workplace adjustments to enable an employee to continue doing their job can be more rewarding and far less expensive than the cost of recruiting and training a new employee.”