Indefinate mandatory workfare for the ill and disabled from Monday.

(62 Posts)
Darkesteyes Fri 30-Nov-12 22:44:13

On Monday 3rd December (which is also international day of the disabled person) ill and disabled people become officially eligible for mandatory workfare.
If unable to do it they could face having to live on £28.15 a week. Inhumane.

Gosh this is so worrying
I am in the process of applying for ESA and DLA due go being so unwell I just can't work.

I don't know know what to do I'm so scared by this

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Mon 03-Dec-12 23:24:04

You need to get to the bottom of the facts. Perhaps Citizens Advice would be a good place to start, and I've found if you do a bit of research and crystallise your questions, government departments are quite good at getting back to you. I wouldn't assume everything in the Guardian is gospel, they have printed some scare stories about what is happening to SN provision which gave me some sleepless nights until I was able to check them out and find they were outright lies.

HotheadPaisan Mon 03-Dec-12 23:33:47

Karlos, what were the lies about the SN reforms?

cory Tue 04-Dec-12 08:41:30

If you were a doctor and had told a patient that going back to work would endanger their life and the patient was subsequently registered as fit for ATOS and then dropped dead at work, could you report them to the police for manslaughter or something?

edam Tue 04-Dec-12 13:48:18

karlos, there is no need to be rude. I don't see what is intemperate or irrational about thinking it is wrong to throw terminally ill cancer patients off disability benefits and demand they find jobs - which employers are going to be keen to recruit someone who is terminally ill, in the middle of recession, exactly?

If the government's plans were actually about supporting people with disabilities into work, educating and assisting employers to make reasonable adaptations and educating the public, that would clearly be a good thing. But what is actually happening is not that at all.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Tue 04-Dec-12 13:53:15

There is such a thing as gross negligence manslaughter but I doubt that would arise in these circumstances. If there was medical evidence that performing a certain task would cause someone's death, you could require them to perform it, but you can't make them do it. The person would have to do it themselves, and to that extent, the death-causing act would be voluntary on their part. I am talking about "voluntary" in the narrow sense that the criminal law would understand the term, you understand, I am aware that a person faced with loss of support could be placed in an impossible position by such a requirement, although i think it's very unlikely to arise in practice, not least because of the possibility of civil liability.

The Guardian caused me to panic because my little boy is on a programme of Applied Behavioural Analysis to help with his ASD which is part-funded by our LEA (at least until they amend his statement, which they will very shortly). The Guardian ran an article a few months ago which suggested that ABA could no longer be funded under the new SEN proposals. So I scoured the draft legislation - nothing there. Scoured the various government papers on the issue - nothing there. Emailed the journo who wrote the article - no response (unsurprisingly). Eventually I emailed the DofE who responded unequivocally that ABA could continue to be funded exactly as it is now. I was also fortunate to be able to consult some barristers with education law expertise, who put this and a few other scare stories about the new legislation to rest for me, thankfully.

It does cause me to smile wryly, though, when I read the Guardian yet again pontificating about the misconduct of other journalists. Rupert Murdoch may be a bastard, but I'm not sure he frightens parents of kids with ASD for fun. Scumbags.

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 14:06:10

Thank you for that ref, PseudoBadger.

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974:
"Section 3 General duties of employers and self-employed to persons other than their employees.
"(1)It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety."

Which could possibly cover a multitude.

For employees, however, specific duties are spelled out in section 2, eg
"Section 2 (2)(c) the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees"

But iiuc, workfarers are probably not covered by Employment legislation - which specifies things like hours worked, toilet and meal breaks, etc. In fact, I've seen complaints about toilet breaks and working conditions in previous workfare schemes. These will impact all workfarers but may have particular impacts on those with health problems.

PseudoBadger Tue 04-Dec-12 17:16:23

Actually section 4 would suggest otherwise " People in control of non-domestic premises have a duty (under section 4 of the Act) towards people who are not their employees but use their premises."

Workplace requirements are covered by regs such as the Workplace (Health, safety and welfare) Regs 1992

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 17:31:47

Mmm, the document you link to states on page 1: "'Work' - means work as an employee or self-employed person."

It's all going to be very murky, isn't it?

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 17:41:55

The Employment Rights Act 1996 includes an extension of the definition of a "worker" to include an individual
"(d)is or was provided with work experience provided pursuant to a training course or programme or with training for employment (or with both) otherwise than—
(i)under a contract of employment, or
(ii)by an educational establishment on a course run by that establishment"

But it's an extension limited to disclosure of information.

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 17:49:03

Sorry, don't see the relevance of Section 4 of the H&S at Work Act?

That's a duty to ensure non-domestic premises "are safe and without risks to health". Says nothing about the risk of any activities being carried out.

PseudoBadger Tue 04-Dec-12 17:56:35

Sorry I misread your post - I thought you meant provision of toilets, break areas etc. Although employers or people in control of premises have a duty to anyone who uses the premises whether employees or not.
Wrt to adequate breaks etc I'm sure that risk assessments/H&S policies could be used to good effect to ensure adequate provision. Sorry, I'm typing in the car (not driving...)

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 18:12:58

Btw, I am very obviously Not A Lawyer, just trying to remember prevoius comments about pushing employment protections back to the 1870s, by someone who I believe is an employment specialist (don't know if law or HR side).

If an expert in this area comes along and says workfarers have the same protections to as employees under existing legislation, that will be great.

Although obviously they can't have the same wage protections and forms of appeal. And of course an employer terminating an employee is discharging them to the mercy of the welfare system; the welfare system discharging a claimant is doing so to... nothing.

PseudoBadger Tue 04-Dec-12 18:15:03

Wrt to people on Workfare not being employees - they are not there for leisure. Someone (DWP?) has required them to be there and that they should work. Therefore they are employees, and someone will be responsible for their health and safety and liable should any incident occur. Whether it is the organisation that pays them or the specific organisation that directs them to do work is a matter to be tested.

MrsEdinburgh Tue 04-Dec-12 18:22:27

It seems that the only way this workfare will stop is when unfortunately someone collapses, dies or endangers the life of others whilst on workfare...

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Tue 04-Dec-12 18:40:47

I doubt there is case law on the subject but I think it is overwhelmingly likely that the courts would hold that people present in a place of employment under workfare arrangements were employees for the purposes of the 1974 Act and related legislation. The possibility that someone would be directed to work where there was clear medical evidence to the effect that it would endanger their safety or that of others seems to me extremely remote.It is far more likely, in my view, that someone will be assigned work which is not within their capacity, leading to them being treated as though they have not co-operated and deprived of support. For this system to work in a way which is just, the assessment of peoples' capacities would need to be undertaken by expert (in some cases extremely expert) people; and that is likely to cost far more than it would ever save in benefit.
I am all for this happeneing, actually, however costly it is, because I think there are lots of pople with illnesses and disabilities who would like to work and who could, with proper assessment and help, and this would in turn lead to a gradual acceptance that people with disabilities and conditions are actually quite capable of useful contribution in the workplace, and a reduction in dependency over the longer term. But this is a massive cultural shoft and the government plainly are not committed to effecting it.

Leithlurker Tue 04-Dec-12 18:59:58

Bollocks to that Karlos, disabled people may have been gaining ground buy their own effort during the 80's and 90's even in to the early part of this centuray. Helped by both DLA which gave them more independence and ability to have their own transport, plus "Access to work" which surprise surprise both informed and assessed employers for suitable work adjustments, including equipment and covering travel costs.

Numbers of impaired students in higher education was going up, more publicly visable disabled people including people with learning disabilities, and complex support needs were living in their own homes, using community facilities.

A pretty good number of impaired people were actually in employment in all sectors, this outrage that people were "parked" for years has nothing what so ever to do with the choices and the wishes of the impaired themselves. People were parked due to a lack of jobs, a reduction in the help and the services that access to work suffered, and in particular a failing of the private work training and finding companies who knew what the government never wanted to hear. The main barrier to disabled people getting employment is employers who given the choice will employ those with no disability even if they are less well qualified and trained. Good simple, plain, old fashioned disabelism. Oh and when we get a legal frame work it is as quickly as possible is watered down and then got rid of, by I am ashamed to say a labour government.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Tue 04-Dec-12 19:06:49

The notion that we are retreating from some kind of utopia where people with disabilities were getting access to employment more easily is laughable. less then 10% of people with ASD, for example, are in employment at all. I agree with you about disablism - that's precisely the point I'm making.

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 19:17:47

I think you're essentially in agreement, Leith & Karlos*: if the aim was to create better access to employment for people with disabilities, we'd be putting pressure on the employers, not on the people with disabilities.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Tue 04-Dec-12 19:34:57

yes, that's exactly what i was trying to say, stated a great deal more succinctly...

Leithlurker Tue 04-Dec-12 19:58:02

Parsing I will add to Karlos's compliment and say that the united nations should be contacting you shortly as indeed we ARE agreeing

Karlos I apologise I baulked at what I thought was your tone of "disabled people can and should work" a notion no one has ever disagreed with, but it has to be on the terms of the employee as that will lead to it being sustainable not a revolving door of jobs that dont last and benefits separated by long periods of ill health brought on by trying to do the impossible.

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 20:45:08

"Parsing I will add to Karlos's compliment and say that the united nations should be contacting you shortly"


<frames and keeps as will never happen again>

<unless they're after my arse for starting a small war somewhere grin>

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Tue 04-Dec-12 21:50:11

No job, anywhere, is "on the terms of the employee". Insisting on that will hobble us before we even begin. What is required is for employers and current employees to accept that many people with disabilities are capable of meaningful work and that certain assumptions about what is required of employees need to change. One bee in my bonnet, for example, is the insistence in work of all types however solitary that prospective employees should have certain social attributes - be chatty, smily, open to socialising with colleagues. There are plenty of people with ASD who would fail on these criteria but are actually perfectly capable of doing certain jobs.
To take a rather airy-fairy example, i was taught at college by someone who I'm fairly convinced had Aspergers. A period of adjustment on my part to some of his oddities of behaviour was required. But this was expected of me, quite rightly, as he was in fact a fantastic teacher (if hard to follow, because so incredibly clever) and the onus was on me to get my head round the ways in which he was different. I was richly rewarded for doing so. in many other walks of life, however, his behaviour would have caused him to be written off.

cory Tue 04-Dec-12 21:55:16

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Tue 04-Dec-12 18:40:47
"The possibility that someone would be directed to work where there was clear medical evidence to the effect that it would endanger their safety or that of others seems to me extremely remote."

But correct me if I am wrong: does the current form of Atos assessment actually take medical evidence from experts into account? Is it not based on the observations of the official on the day? In which case it seems perfectly possible that somebody with, say, a life-threatening heart condition could slip through.

ParsingFancy Tue 04-Dec-12 22:01:14

This mandatory workfare is intended to be for people with life-threatening heart conditions.

Who have been found not fit to work by ATOS and awarded ESA as part of the Work-Related Activity Group.

In which they may be told to... work. At the discretion of a JobCentre clerk who has no access to medical info and wouldn't understand it if they had.

Yes, it really is that bonkers.

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