Author Topic: Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review  (Read 2387 times)

lankou

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Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review
« on: December 12, 2013, 06:48:53 PM »

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25354881

12 December 2013 Last updated at 17:43


Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review

An independent review of fitness-to-work tests has found "considerable dissatisfaction" among disabled people.

Dr Paul Litchfield, an occupational physician, highlighted the need to treat people with dignity and respect as a particular area for improvement.

Communication with disabled people by assessors was another area of concern.

Training advice on assessments showed a "confrontational set up", the report found, which "is not accepted practice in clinical healthcare".

Assessments could be improved by adjusting the layout of interview rooms, better listening skills and the avoidance of inferring answers not provided by interviewees, according to Dr Litchfield.

Work Capability Assessments were introduced in 2008 to determine who should receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Decisions are taken by officials at the Department of Work and Pensions using evidence from the assessments, carried out by Atos Healthcare professionals.

The assessment aims to judge how a person's condition limits their ability to work, rather than conferring eligibility for benefits simply because of a certain impairment.

The review also raises questions about the "arbitrary" nature of the points system used to determine eligibility for benefits.

It recommends that people with mental health problems should be assessed by practitioners with specific experience in that area.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the disability charity Scope, said the process "ignores" the "huge challenges" faced by disabled people such as a lack of skills and experience, confidence and negative attitudes from some employers.

"It's a tick-box test of someone's medical condition," he added.

'Good progress'
However, Dr Litchfield did acknowledge "good progress" made by the Work Capability Assessment system since its last review.

He commended the Department for Work and Pensions on its efforts in areas such as the way people with cancer are treated by the system, and on providing explanations for why benefits have been refused.

Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning welcomed Dr Litchfield's recommendations, and said his department will "carefully consider" before responding in order "to make sure we get this right for claimants - and right for taxpayers".

The minister pointed out that the government spends more than 13bn on sickness and incapacity benefits for people of working age.

In a separate announcement, the Department for Work and Pensions has said it will allocate 2m to support disabled who arrange their own work experience placements.

The fund is part of the Access to Work scheme, which was previously only offered to disabled people taking up work placements organised through Jobcentre Plus.

JLR2

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Re: Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2013, 09:00:02 AM »
This report and a couple of other reports in today's papers were discussed by the BBC's newspaper review last night though virtually ignored by the Tory friendly Sky News newspaper review. I should also mention I am disgusted with the BBC Breakfast program this morning as it has seen fit to ignore, least as long as I could continue to watch it before going for a DVD (Tina Turner concert with Bowie).

It seems that from next week the DWP are to start testing immigrants language skills with those failing being deprived of access to UK benefits completely. Those doing the reviewing were having something of a chuckle about this as they did not believe IDS could actually implement such a ruling without it contravening EU law.

devine63

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Re: Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2013, 10:45:14 PM »
I think the language test thing contravenes British law too - since it is essentially racism it presumably breaches the Equality Act!

Is this review from Dr. Litchfield the next in the series of reviews started by Harrington?  (the latter has retired)

regards, Deb
regards, Deb

[devine63]

DarthVector

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Re: Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2013, 03:02:24 AM »
I have heard it suggested that JSA rules could be changed to disqualify people who don't speak English to a reasonable standard. The justification was that they cannot reasonably be considered "available for work" if they don't speak the language and are therefore unlikely to be taken on as employees.

On a related note, there are moves to require young people with no qualifications in English and / or maths to study those subjects whilst on JSA or lose their entitlement to benefit:

Quote
The chancellor also announced new rules for young people claiming benefits.

Starting in specific areas, anyone aged between 18 and 21 will be required to accept training in Maths and English if they do not already have basic level two qualifications.

They will need to study for 16 hours a week, alongside their job searching.

If they refuse, they will not be able to claim benefit payments.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25222680

That could easily be made to serve as a back door way of enforcing a minimum level of English knowledge on immigrants. It wouldn't be considered racist or against EU law if it applied to everyone.

However, the application of this idea would be limited. There's no justification for a language test when applying for DLA or PIP, for example. There might be an outside chance of implementing it with ESA WRAG, though, by designating English and maths courses as work-related activities.

Dic Penderyn

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Re: Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2013, 05:36:00 AM »
And who exactly is going to offer these courses that they should accept and who is going to pay for them I wonder.
Be careful in what you wish for, God has a sense of humour

ATurtle

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Re: Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2013, 12:50:32 PM »
I have heard it suggested that JSA rules could be changed to disqualify people who don't speak English to a reasonable standard. The justification was that they cannot reasonably be considered "available for work" if they don't speak the language and are therefore unlikely to be taken on as employees.

So that's most English speaking deaf-from-birth descended-from-William-the-Conqueror people being deported then!

Does that mean Glaswegians (sorry Scottish People) or Northerners with thick accents applying for benefits in the South East will be deported?
Tony.

"I choose not to place "DIS", in my ability." - Robert M. Hensel

DarthVector

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Re: Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2013, 01:33:14 PM »
That reminds me of the time when I was working in Germany, and some of my Continental colleagues were about to go to a conference in Glasgow. The coffee room conversation was apparently something like:

"You're going to Glasgow? Aren't they really hard to understand?"
"No, we can understand [Darth] perfectly well, it'll be fine!"

Unfortunately, they didn't realise that I was taught to speak by a speech therapist; speech therapists all sound like BBC newsreaders. On arriving in Glasgow and checking in at the hotel:

"Hello, we're staying here for the conference. Can we check in, please?"
"Sure, whitsyernehm?"
"I'm sorry?"
"Whitsyernehm?"
"Oh, my name is [X], this is [Y] and this is [Z]."
"Hoolangyerherefur?"
"Excuse me?"
"Hoolangyerherefur?"
...
etc.

Oops.

Of course, they told me all about it when they got back to HQ, and I promptly said: "Oh, yes, that sounds about right. When I'm talking to people from [my home town], they never believe I come from there. They say my accent 'sounds too posh for that'."

I wonder where Jobcentre Plus would deport me to?

JLR2

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Re: Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2013, 03:51:00 PM »
This whole language idea could maybe cause problems within the NHS as I find it hard sometimes to understand some of the folk who now it would appear are staffing more and more of the NHS. Another question that might be raised is the use by many UK companies of call centres based in Asian countries, one that readily comes to mind is BT. It takes long enough to get through to their call centre and then having managed to get through I have found I had to start again to try to get someone who I could actually understand and no loess important understand me and my Glasgow born accent.

ATurtle

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Re: Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2013, 07:35:08 PM »
Sorry about the Glaswegian comment, but I happen to know that 10 miles down the road there are people that don't understand people from the city, and vice versa.

Slightly but as far as the call centre thing goes, I usually say "I am sorry, could you get me someone who speaks English as a first language?"  I have only been called racist once for that comment.

I was reading somewhere that it is suggested that when one goes for a WCA one should ask the HCP for their GMC number (General Medical Council) to check that they are current doctors, and it is a piece of information that has to be freely given, no matter what.
Tony.

"I choose not to place "DIS", in my ability." - Robert M. Hensel

seegee

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Re: Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2013, 07:42:09 PM »
Do the people who lay out these rules chat to the office cleaners much?  Why is a high standard of spoken & written English important if your job is cleaning a workplace after everyone else but the security person who locks up after you has gone home for the day?  You don't need to read to know which chemicals are dangerous, they helpfully have skull-&-crossbones, picture of a hand being corroded or other warning pictures on the packaging.
You don't need to speak at all to shop in a supermarket, minimal English is needed to buy a ticket for the bus or train & you can speak whatever language you like at home with your family. 

Oddly, though I speak to the people who sweep the roads (they happen to be white British, with about 99% of the local population), I've never felt the need to ask them just how good their maths or written English is - but the government seems to think it's important. >doh<
There are plenty of UK-native English speakers who don't have level2 qualifications in maths or English (level 2 is a grade C or above GCSE); where should the government send them to?  >erm<

Tony, the HCP may not be a doctor; nurses & midwives have a number if they are currently on the professional register (but not from the GMC), I don't know if physiotherapists have to be registered with a professional body but I expect so.

JLR2

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Re: Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2013, 08:14:18 PM »
From what I understand my girlfriend in Berlin was telling me Germany's Chancellor Merkel is supportive of this idea as having introduced it in the UK Germany would be quick to implement the same conditions there in order to stem the tide of new immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria.

Dic Penderyn

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Re: Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2013, 09:31:20 PM »
Never mind Glasgow when I first moved to Wigan for the first 6 months I could not understand hardly anything any body said.

Funnily enough my wife's Godmother was awarded the MBE  mainly for her services to the Cumbrian dialect go figure.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2013, 09:33:47 PM by Dic Penderyn »
Be careful in what you wish for, God has a sense of humour

seegee

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Re: Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2013, 10:03:39 PM »

Funny folk in Wigan, Dic (I went out for lunch with several of them today ;-))... 

Local dialects & accents vary over very short distances. 
We could pinpoint local people who came from a couple of miles away (you're from z side of town, you live in the next town 3 miles away) by the first few words they spoke when we were at school - and we live in an urban area where the towns meet in the middle. 
I was apparently very hard to understand 10 miles from home aged 16 - I made an effort to speak more standard English if very far from home (on holiday for example) but was surprised at such a difficulty so close. 

Dic Penderyn

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Re: Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2013, 10:39:38 PM »
Yeh in Wigan I was once told to go back to where I came from, I had to point out to him the fact that if I did it would take me about 20 to 30 minutes by car.
Be careful in what you wish for, God has a sense of humour

seegee

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Re: Work fitness tests are 'confrontational' - review
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2013, 10:50:12 PM »
I expect I'd have had trouble being understood in parts of Wigan when I was 16, I hadn't really been there.  I was in Salford when I learned I was incomprehensible.  >lol<