Staff flying without a net as part-timers missing out on vital occupational health support
Occupational health is an incredibly useful tool for any business. Offering a framework to prevent ill-health in the workplace, it can help enterprises fulfil their obligations toward employee wellbeing and ensure no member of staff feels their health is being neglected. However, it seems that whilst core staff are reaping the benefits, often part-time staff are being neglected – despite the fact they fall under the same duty of care as any other employees.
According to a YouGov survey carried out on the behalf of health and safety experts Croner, there is a huge disparity in the health benefits received by full-time staff and those received by individuals working part-time. Indeed it seems that often employees are unaware they even have this right. Overall, 31% of employees were of the opinion that their employer offered no such support; this was much more common amongst part-time staff, of whom 42% felt they had no access to occupational health, compared to just 28% of full-time staff.
Even amongst those who did feel they had access to occupational health service, a significant proportion still felt their employers approach was insufficient. Less than half of full-time staff felt that their employer was pro-active in preventing ill health in the workplace and for part-time staff this was less than two-fifths. Why there should be such a gap it’s difficult to tell, but one theory is that there may simply be a lack of knowledge and commitment around occupational health schemes in sectors that rely more heavily on part-time employees.
“These findings on occupational health provision raise several concerns,” said Stephen Thomas, safety technical consultant at Croner. “Employers have a duty of care to ensure, to a reasonable extent, the health and safety of all their employees, whether they are full- or part-time. And that is true for preventing ill health in the workplace as much as for preventing accidents.”
Thomas continued: “Furthermore, it would seem that a large number of workers are not satisfied with the occupational health services their employer provides. Croner urges employers to consider whether their workforce would benefit from more diverse services by consulting with their workers. And occupational health is a business benefit too. Investing in useful, proactive health surveillance, monitoring and support can not only help individuals but also prevent lost working time and productivity.”
All things considered, occupational health is essential for any business as it allows an enterprise to instil a culture showing that health and productivity go hand in hand. But it’s important to make sure that’s available to all – just because a member of staff is only at their desk three days a week, doesn’t mean you can afford to let them slip through the cracks.