United Kingdom

Sickness, Disability and Work (Vol. 2): Australia, Luxembourg, Spain and the United Kingdom


How to obtain this publication I Previous and forthcoming reports I Press release & Country notes I Selection of tables and charts

ISBN: 9789264038158
Published: 18/12/2007

178 pages

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 is a social and economic tragedy common to virtually all OECD countries, and an apparent paradox that needs explaining.

Why is it that average health status is improving, yet more and more people of working age end up out of the workforce relying on long-term sickness and disability benefits?

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.

Experiences in the four countries offer some lessons on how to reduce inflows into sickness and disability benefits through good sickness management for the employed as well as the unemployed, and how to promote the transition from
benefits into employment through well-timed, well-targeted, accessible and effective supports.

Despite a range of good-practice elements, however, in all four countries more can be done to avoid the flow onto benefits and to move benefit recipients back to employment.

Many people with health problems or reduced work capacity can work, and want to work. Helping those people to work is potentially a true ‘win-win’ policy: it helps people avoid exclusion and have higher incomes, at the same time as raising the prospect of higher economic output in the long term.

 This publication can be obtained from:

  • Subscribers and readers at subscribing institutions can access the online edition via SourceOECD, our online library.
  • Non-subscribers can purchase the PDF e-book and/or paper copy via our OECD Online Bookshop
  • Government officials with accounts (subscribe) can go to the "Books" tab on OLIS.
  • Password-protected web site for accredited journalists

Previous and forthcoming reports

This publication is the second in a series of three comparative report on sickness and disability policies in selected OECD countries. Vol. 1 on Norway, Poland and Switzerland was published in 2006. Vol. 3, published in 2008, covered Denmark, Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands. The three comparative reports will be followed by a synthesis report that will summarise the lessons learned in the course of the thematic review

Press Release & Country Notes

Press release: OECD says governments must help people with reduced work capacity to get jobs

Country Notes:
Country note Australia: Employer involvement would strengthen Australia’s Welfare to Work reform
Country note Luxembourg: Financial incentives would help Luxembourg to increase workforce participation
Country note Spain: Spain should help disabled workers enter the labour market
Country note United Kingdom: The United Kingdom should monitor the health of people claiming unemployment and lone-parent benefits


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