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Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers (Vol. 2)

Australia, Luxembourg, Spain and the United Kingdom

image of Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers (Vol. 2)
Too many workers leave the labour market permanently due to health problems, and yet too many people with a disabling condition are denied the opportunity to work. This second report in the OECD series Sickness, Disability and Work explores the possible factors behind this paradox. It looks specifically at the cases of Australia, Luxembourg, Spain and the United Kingdom, and highlights the roles of institutions and policies. A range of reform recommendations is put forward to deal with specific challenges facing the four countries.

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Employment Policy

New Challenges and Directions

Employment rates of people with disability are far below those of persons without disability. Partly this is because severe health impairments prevent people from working. However, there are many other factors including a lack of appropriate skills, discrimination, weak incentives to look for work and accept a job offer, and ineffective re-integration measures. Anti-discrimination legislation (Australia, United Kingdom), employment quotas (Luxembourg, Spain) and other forms of employer responsibilities and supports have proven to be insufficient. Measures to improve the employability of people with reduced work capacity and to help those workers stay in and find employment are needed. Spain and Luxembourg have only just started to acknowledge the need for such change. Australia and the United Kingdom have recently made big steps away from what used to be extremely passive benefit systems, and they are both setting new standards in outcome-based funding of services, individual case management and streamlined service delivery. Yet, overall investments in these areas are still lagging behind and, despite very welcome advances in the United Kingdom, there is a general lack of rigorous evaluation and cost-benefit analysis of employment programmes. To improve the situation, a range of steps have been taken recently in all countries with the aim to raise the involvement and responsibilities of the main actors: workers with disability, their employers and the public authorities supporting them.

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