ATOS - An occupational hindrance? Aug 26, 2012 7:51:43 GMT 1
Post by nickd on Aug 26, 2012 7:51:43 GMT 1
ATOS & their 'healthcare' assessments
Are they an occupational hindrance? ..
French IT firm Atos has come in for a lot of adverse publicity of late over the apparent unfairness caused by the way they are assessing thousands of benefit claimants as 'fit for work'. Disability campaigners and charities have spoken out condemning the firm's computer based assessments as 'not fit for purpose' . Atos are contracted by the DWP to assess thousands of benefit claimants using a 'Work Capability Assessment' to determine whether they are entitled to claim Employment & Support Allowance. Those who are assessed as fit for work will be expected to claim Jobseeker's Allowance and to find work with little support to help them find it. The assessments have been condemned by many, there are reports of suicides and people dying of serious health conditions shortly after being declared fit by Atos & the DWP. Thousands appeal against the unfair findings of Atos and their healthcare professionals and of those who are professionally helped in the appeal process around 80% succeed at Tribunals.
But beware, it's not just benefit claimants who could end up subject to the dreaded Atos assessment. As an employee it's quite likely that you may find yourself subject to one of their occupational healthcare assessments. Unsurprisingly the firm which boasts it has the second largest numbers of doctors next to the NHS has a number of private contracts in assessing public sector workers including those who work for the DWP and the HMRC. It seems the HMRC's workers aren't too happy at the prospect of being assessed by Atos, see what the Euston branch of the Public & Commercial Union say of their HMRC experience here. You can also read how Atos were awarded a 3 year contract to assess DWP staff in 2008.
Atos seem to have an alarming number of government contracts. Not only do they assess thousands of benefit claimants for Employment & Support Allowance but they've recently been awarded a £400 million pound contact to assess claimants for the new Personal Independence Payment. We know from our research on Mylegal that they also have IT contracts with the Ministry of Justice and a number of other public service departments. However perhaps most controversially they have sponsored the Paralympics, many disability campaigners are saying that Atos are simply using the games to their own advantage by highlighting how disabled people can compete despite having the most severe of limitations; the inevitable conclusion many people may reach is if disabled individuals can compete in such a testing range of sports what's the problem in finding so many people fit for work?
It's a fair question but one which Atos may find hard to answer given their tough stance on actually recruiting people into the workplace, for amongst Atos's ever increasing range of services they also offer to carry out 'pre-employment screening' and it's quite a revelation as to how rigid it is:
Atos Pre-Employment Screening
"Pre-employment screening gives a potential employee and their new employer the opportunity to ensure that the employee’s health and fitness meet the demands and risks of the job. It’s also good practice because recruiting the wrong person can be costly both in financial terms and in disruption to your business."[/i]
You can read more about Atos and their pre-employment screening here. Indeed you can go a step further and view a questionnaire which you would need to complete if applying for a job with the NHS in Southwark. The questionnaire asks you an absolute preponderance of questions including the following:
Do you have, or have you suffered from any of the following (please circle YES or NO):
- Back/neck/limb ache/ joint pain/arthritis etc that limits your normal movement?
- Epilepsy/fits/blackouts/ fainting etc?
- Diabetes or other endocrine disorders, Jaundice or other blood disorders?
- Current or previous Chest disease/angina/ heart attack/ Heart problems etc?
- Asthma or other breathing problems/conditions?
- High blood pressure/giddiness/prolonged headaches or migraine?
- Do you have any problems relating to shift working or night duty?
- Eyesight problems not corrected by glasses or contact lenses?
- Hearing impairment requiring assistance or special equipment a work or any recurrent or persistent ear infections or other ENT problems?
- Allergies to dusts, chemicals, foods, drugs or other substances?
- Latex/rubber allergy or any other skin related dermatitis/ eczema type condition or other skin disease?
- Psychiatric ill health, including diagnosed conditions, treatment or ongoing therapy/support?
- Bulimia/anorexia/eating disorders?
- Depression/anxiety reactive or endogenous even if mild?
- Gynaecological/Bladder or Kidney problems where this affects your ability to work and results in frequent absence?
- Do you have any health problems relating to night work or shift pattern working?
- Do you have, or have you had, any health problems which resulted in a change or restriction in your professional activities?
- Other not mentioned above
There are two questions I would like to ask Atos:
Do you assess DWP & HMRC staff under the Work Capability Assessment when assessing their ability to work?
How many potential employees who are disabled end up being selected by employers after you have carried out your 'pre- employment screening'?