Friday, June 30, 2023

Institution of Occupational Safety and Health challenges minister's claim about working from home

UK Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride has been quoted in The Times saying increases in people working from home - whether from garden offices are in the main body of the home - is causing a rise in those on long-term sickness.

In reply, here is what IOSH's Head of Policy Ruth Wilkinson said: 

“Good, well-managed work is vital for people’s health and wellbeing. For work to be ‘good’, it must be safe, healthy, supportive and accommodate people’s needs. Working from home can have many benefits for people, so simply labelling it as a factor behind increased long-term sickness is unhelpful, as the focus must be on the root cause of the long-term sickness if appropriate action is to be taken.

“For example, we should be seeking to ensure that working from home is managed properly, to prevent problems such as musculoskeletal disorders, isolation, long working hours, and so on. Businesses still have a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of their employees and that good risk management and assessment processes are in place, preventing harm and managing risks, just as they do in offices, factories and other workplaces.

“Considering mental health, risks can arise from poor work design, organisation and management as well as poor social context of work. Effective leadership, management of psychosocial risks, with a good culture, the right policies, and work environment, conditions and job design will all play a part in preventing harm and reducing risks to workers.

“If this is all in place, working from home can have significant benefits for individuals, including greater flexibility and work-life balance, something which can provide a positive return for a business.”


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