Discriminatory policy? | Disabled staff must do 'their duty' and work from home, says UK MP

Disabled staff must do 'their duty' and work from home, says UK MP

Disabled UK workers must do “their duty” to find remote jobs or risk their benefits being cut by £4680 a year, said Laura Trott, chief secretary to the Treasury.

The comments came as the government set out its Autumn budget, announcing plans to get those with disabilities – including mental health or mobility issues – to work from home or risk losing welfare benefits.

Trott told Sky News that those who can “should work” as there is a “duty on citizens” to.

The welfare shake-up is set to amend the current “unsustainable” welfare system but has been met with a barrage of criticism from spectators.

A discriminatory policy?

With many companies transitioning back to the office, disabled workers will be choosing from a diminishing pool of job opportunities. Beyond this, forcing those with disabilities to work from home fails to acknowledge the varying desires of those in this group – who are not a homogenous group – all of which are likely to be very different to each other.

Paula Allen, Global Leader and Senior Vice-President of Research and Total Wellbeing at TELUS Health, says: While the intention behind Rishi Sunak's 'work from home drive' is to encourage Brits suffering from long term sickness to find employment, it's crucial to recognise three things. One is the sense of purpose and self-determination that work provides is very positive. Another point, however, it is important to ensure that those with the kind of long-term illness that interferes with work are supported in work that suits their capabilities and limitations.

“For some that may mean work from home, but for others working from home may not be sufficient accommodation, and in some cases work from home may not be desirable. The third issue is the importance of providing comprehensive support and resources for individuals with mental health problems as part of this push. The change involved in transitioning to work itself is something that may create fear, and the need for assistance in building confidence.”

Disabled workers already face a myriad of challenges in the workplace. Many fear that pressures to work from home could further exclude these individuals and have long-term consequences.

Verity Kick, Marketing Director at Oak Tree Mobility, says: "The directive that disabled individuals must seek work opportunities they can do from home or face a significant reduction in benefits is alarming and potentially discriminatory. This policy could have far-reaching implications for disabled employees, particularly in a job market where many employers are increasingly mandating office work.

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“Firstly, the threat of a £4680 annual cut in benefits places undue pressure on disabled individuals, many of whom already face significant challenges in the workforce.

“Furthermore, the shift back to office-based work in many sectors presents an additional barrier for disabled individuals. Not all employers offer flexible or remote working options, and this policy could unfairly penalise those who are unable to find suitable home-based employment. It also overlooks the fact that not all jobs can be adapted to a home setting, especially in industries that require physical presence."

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