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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

From Work-Life Balance to Work-Health Balance

There's a fascinating discussion going on in England about the role of companies promoting work-life balance.

It was prompted by this comment by English Health Secretary Alan Johnson:

"Increased maternity leave, the introduction of paternity leave, time off for adoptive parents and the right to request flexible working have led to a quiet revolution, as more employers recognise that supporting a healthy work-life balance is essential to recruiting and retaining talented staff," he said.

"The next stage is to incorporate work-life balance with work-health balance."

The story about Alan Johnson's workplace health plan gets a lot more complicated--Johnson in the same speech called for employers to be able to determine whether an employee declared too sick to work by a doctor may be able to fulfill some work responsibilities rather than just getting a full excused absence for an extended period.

Great Britain has a large number of workers on long-term disability, lowering national productivity. Johnson wants to find some ways to get people back into the workforce at least partially.

Still, the idea of "work-health balance" is a good one to put into circulation.

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