New work assessments for the disabled and people with health
conditions will impose ''unnecessary angst'' and wrongly put
the onus on clients rather than employers, CCS Disability
Action Otago patron Donna-Rose McKay says.
Details of the tests, which start early next year, have been
released to the Government's electronic tenders website in a
Ministry of Social Development request for proposal.
Mrs McKay believed New Zealand was adopting the same ''flawed
model'' as Britain, where work-testing the disabled was
''The process focuses on the person as having to overcome the
barriers, but in reality for many people with impairment or
many people who have an illness, the barriers are not with
themselves; the barriers are with employment and other
It meant ''more hoops, more bureaucracy'' when opportunities
''You can set someone up with everything they need, but
there's no jobs available, and then how is the person going
Work and Income expects up to 1000 clients to be referred for
a ''work ability assessment'' between February and June next
year, about 2000 in 2014-15, and about 3000 the next year,
the proposal document said.
The provider would receive $650 (GST exclusive) for each
The process would take about three hours, which included a
one-hour face-to-face assessment.
''This assessment will be done by a suitably qualified
medical or health professional, who will take a fresh look at
a person's ability to work, along with the supports and
services they need to find and stay in work.
''The work ability assessment is intended to take a broader,
holistic approach to the factors affecting a client's ability
to work,'' the document said.
The assessment ''may help'' determine if the client was
required to look for work, but would not be used as a test
for receiving benefits.
Testing was a final step if a self-assessment and a
structured interview had ''not resulted in sufficient
information about their ability to return to work and what
supports would be needed for them to do so''.
Dunedin disability researcher Chris Ford said the tests were
likely to find most people able to perform some kind of work,
taking no account of the wider economic situation.
In effect, this depressed wages in the employment market for
everyone, he said.