Monday, February 10, 2014



IWS Documented News Service


Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau



Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)



[read online,  146 pages]


Awareness of the importance of mental health at work in the UK is among the highest in the world. However, a number of challenges remain to help people with mental health problems stay in work and facilitate their early return to work. The UK has put in place and is putting in place a number of very important reforms. It will be important to implement those reforms rigorously; to modify and strengthen the reforms that have not yet delivered and to close the remaining gaps identified in the report.

Table of contents
Executive summary (free PDF)
Assessment and recommendations (free PDF)
Chapter 1: Mental health and work challenges in the United Kingdom (abstract)
Chapter 2: Achieving higher labour market participation in the United Kingdom: The role of the welfare system (abstract)
Chapter 3: Sick on the job: The role of employers in the United Kingdom (abstract)
Chapter 4: The new role of the health sector in the United Kingdom: How can it support work and well-being? (abstract)

Press Release 10 February 2014

UK needs to tackle high cost of mental-ill health, says OECD


10/02/2014 - Mental health issues cost the UK around GBP 70 billion every year, or roughly 4.5% of GDP, in lost productivity at work, benefit payments and health care expenditure. Better policies and practices by employers and the health system are needed to help people deal with mental health issues and get back to work, according to a new OECD report.


Mental Health and Work: The United Kingdom says that around one million claimants on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), and as many on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and other working-age benefits, have a mental disorder such as anxiety and depression that is hurting their prospects of finding work.


Acting early is the best way to prevent poor mental health leading to benefit dependency, both when people are still at work and early on during the sick-leave period, the report argues. Retaining a job is easier than finding a new one. Up to 370,000 Britons move onto disability benefit every year (1% of the working-age population), the highest rate in the developed world and twice the OECD average. The leading cause for such benefit claims is mental illness, now accounting for around 40% of all new claims.


Some of the recent UK welfare reforms designed to tackle stubbornly high disability benefit caseloads go in the right direction. However, further improvements are needed to ensure that reforms live up to their promise to bring people into work. If welfare cuts are to be made, they need to be matched by increased efforts to address the barriers to finding and remaining in work, says the report.


The new Work Programme is struggling to place ESA and JSA claimants with mental health problems into work. People with a mental illness continue to fare badly compared to their counterparts without such illness: their unemployment rate is more than double the overall rate; and the risk of falling below the poverty threshold is almost double the overall risk.  Indeed, the risk of poverty among people with mental health problems is the highest in a comparison of ten OECD countries including seven other European countries, Australia and the US.


The majority of benefit claimants with mental health problems need a combination of health and employment interventions to improve their chances of finding a suitable job. The health sector has increased services, so that access to common mental health treatments is much better than it was five years ago, but waiting lists are still too long in some parts of the country. Positive changes are also taking place to inform general practitioners about common mental disorders and return-to-work issues, but more systematic action in dealing with workplace matters is needed through a revised training curriculum.


The OECD recommends that the UK authorities:

·         Ensure that the new Health and Work Service, announced to start in 2014, is implemented quickly and universally, with a strong focus on mental health and those still in work and with much stronger involvement of employers.

·         Increase the attention to mental health and its impact on employability and work capacity in all parts of the welfare system.

·         Increase resources and refine financial incentives for employment service providers to ensure better employment outcomes for customers with mental health problems.

·         Build on recently improved integration of health and employment services to make sure that integrated health and employment interventions for those with mental health issues are widely available.

·         Further expand access to psychological therapies for those with a common mental disorder.



This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.


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