Sickness Absence Management
The Employment Team has
recently welcomed in excess of 60 clients to a seminar entitled -
Managing Sickness Absence Pro-actively.
Many of those attending
confirmed that absence both long term and short term, (short but
often frequent and unplanned), was a cause of some concern in their
The one absolute fact to be
gleaned from the presentation, workshops and discussions that took
place was that absence costs. Indeed a number of headline
statistics bear witness to this fact.
The independent review of
sickness absence entitled Health at Work, prepared by Dame Carol
Black and entitled "Health at Work" stated that a staggering
300,000 people each year fall out of work and into the welfare
system because of health related issues. The review further
states that employers face an annual bill of £9 billion pounds for
sick pay and associated costs, and that the state spends £13
billion a year on health related benefits.
It was apparent that employers
often lack the confidence to deal proactively with absence and
there was an agreement that a robust sickness management policy was
a good place to start.
Those present also agreed that
in any individual case of sickness absence, communication was key
from the initial stages of absence. It was generally
acknowledged that communication is often poor or in some cases
non-existent and that this absence of communication can in many
circumstances provide a barrier to an individual employee returning
to the workplace. Again, communication can be facilitated by
the "fit note procedure" whereby a "may be fit to work" indication
should prompt some dialogue between the absent employee and their
line manager. Equally important a Sickness Absence Policy
which places a mutual obligation on both the employer and employee
can be a useful management tool in establishing a routine of
communication and achieving a balance between genuine concern and
support for the individual and conduct which could be deemed to be
oppressive, intrusive or even akin to harassment.
The overall consensus was that
early intervention and proactive management coupled with good
communication was a key to reducing absence and saving costs.
The greatest challenge of all is having the confidence to put all
the things we know make good sense into practice.
Posted on: 21/07/2014
This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.
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