The health of Scotland's working-age population is key to the wellbeing of both individuals and communities, and to the future economic success of Scotland. Healthy individuals are, generally, more productive, more motivated and have less sickness absence. Conversely, for most people, being in work is good for their long-term health.
The Scottish Government and COSLA are committed to working together to tackle the causes of health and social inequalities. One of the keys to this is to address poverty and deprivation through improving the health and wellbeing of those in work, reducing the risks of losing work through health issues and helping those out of work through poor health to return to employment.
The report of Dame Carol Black's review of the health of Britain's working-age population concluded that poor health costs the British economy £100 billion a year in lost productivity, lost tax revenues, lost spending and increased health and social care costs. In addition, there are impacts on individuals, families and communities as a result of health barriers to working that cannot be costed.
Health Works sets out why we want to change attitudes to health and work amongst employers, workers and healthcare professions, and the actions that we will undertake to achieve this.
We will work with employers in the public, private and third sectors to help them understand the importance to their organisation's success of supporting and improving the health and wellbeing of their workforce. In particular, we aim to connect better with the small and medium sized enterprise sector to promote the messages on workforce wellbeing and, crucially, to provide access to simple tools and guidance that will help.
The changes to the 'sicknote' being introduced by the UK Government will bring about a major change in culture and attitudes to health and work. The introduction of the new 'fitnote' will be a challenge in ensuring that everyone concerned understands what the changes mean, but it is also a great opportunity to improve understanding of the relationships between health and work and why maintaining and improving health is so important for the working-age population.
With the public sector employing almost a quarter of the working population of Scotland it will play a key role in being an exemplar employer for the current workforce and as a recruiter, offering opportunities to those wishing to return to work from the benefit system.
By sharing the benefits of the rewards of work the public sector can help make the case for change, which will not only encourage employers in Scotland to gain the benefits of improved health and wellbeing in the workplace but will also help support more people of working age back into work.
Nicola Sturgeon MSP
Deputy First Minister and
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing
Councillor Ronnie McColl
COSLA Spokesperson on Health and Wellbeing