Mark Williams, Member of Parliament for Ceredigion, has called on the government to provide more support for workers with arthritis to help rectify the ‘arthritis employment gap’.
Arthritis is the number one cause of pain, disability and working days lost, according to Arthritis Research UK, which highlighted the issue to Mark at a recent parliamentary briefing. Arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions like back pain affect one in six people in the UK.
Musculoskeletal conditions cause pain, stiffness and fatigue that can make every day work tasks such as sitting, standing, walking, lifting, and typing difficult. They are the leading cause of workplace absence in the UK, causing 32.4 million sick days each year.
Only 60% of working age people with a musculoskeletal condition are in work, compared to 80% among those without a health condition or a disability. This ‘arthritis work gap’ means that 600,000 people with arthritis are currently missing out on the opportunity to work.
Following the Government’s ‘Improving Lives’ consultation on employment support for disabled people, Mark is calling on the Government to ensure that people with arthritis have the support to stay in work for longer. He said:
“It’s clear how enormous the impact of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions is on our local communities. The ability to work is something that we often take for granted, but I’ve learnt that for those living with arthritis this can be an incredibly difficult task. Undoubtedly many local people with conditions like this want to work, but do not always have the necessary support to be able to do so.
“That’s why I’m supporting Arthritis Research UK’s ‘Work Matters to Me’ campaign, putting this vital issue on the map. The Government must ensure that there is a level playing field so that people with arthritis who are able to work have the right support and employment opportunities.”