by Chloe Cornish

Theresa May should do more to help companies to employ staff who are recovering from addiction, an independent review has said.
While employers were generally supportive of existing staff who develop drug or alcohol problems, they were reluctant to hire people with addiction histories, a review led by Dame Carol Black has found.
“Additional government action is required as employers are clear that they need to ‘de-risk’ the decision to employ someone in recovery,” according to the 138-page report.
However Dame Carol did not back a suggestion made by David Cameron last year that people who reject help to get off drugs or lose weight should have their benefits cut. A Downing St spokesman said on Monday that Mr Cameron’s idea was “not under consideration”.
Dame Carol is a special adviser to the Department of Health and Public Health England and principal of Newnham College, Cambridge.
Her recommendations included an “Individual Placement and Support model” trial, which would involve expert support and discretionary funds to cover costs incurred for small companies taking on people with addictions.
The report suggested that a “try before you buy” probationary approach would help persuade employers to hire people with substance problems, after an opportunity to assess their suitability through a work trial.
And having JobCentre staff in treatment centres could help addicted people return to work faster, said the report.
Returning to or staying in employment was found to help people recover from addiction. “[D]uring the first six months after treatment for alcohol misuse 45 per cent of those who were unemployed relapsed, compared to 23 per cent of the employed,” according to one study quoted in the report.
Dame Carol said: “Our goal has been to find ways of overcoming the employment problems that people face when they are addicted to alcohol or drugs, or are obese. After a searching inquiry we are clear that a fresh approach is needed, one that brings together health, social, and employment agencies in new collaborative ways.”
Part of the report’s scope was to ascertain “whether the government should make benefit claimants with an addiction engage with treatment as a condition of their benefit entitlement”.
But it concluded that mandating people suffering from addictions or obesity to attend treatment as a precursor to receiving benefits, was unlikely to be successful or “cost-effective”.

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