Sickness Absence Management
The Employment Team hasrecently welcomed in excess of 60 clients to a seminar entitled -Managing Sickness Absence Pro-actively.
Many of those attendingconfirmed that absence both long term and short term, (short butoften frequent and unplanned), was a cause of some concern in theirbusiness.
The one absolute fact to begleaned from the presentation, workshops and discussions that tookplace was that absence costs. Indeed a number of headlinestatistics bear witness to this fact.
The independent review ofsickness absence entitled Health at Work, prepared by Dame CarolBlack and entitled "Health at Work" stated that a staggering300,000 people each year fall out of work and into the welfaresystem because of health related issues. The review furtherstates that employers face an annual bill of £9 billion pounds forsick pay and associated costs, and that the state spends £13billion a year on health related benefits.
It was apparent that employersoften lack the confidence to deal proactively with absence andthere was an agreement that a robust sickness management policy wasa good place to start.
Those present also agreed thatin any individual case of sickness absence, communication was keyfrom the initial stages of absence. It was generallyacknowledged that communication is often poor or in some casesnon-existent and that this absence of communication can in manycircumstances provide a barrier to an individual employee returningto the workplace. Again, communication can be facilitated bythe "fit note procedure" whereby a "may be fit to work" indicationshould prompt some dialogue between the absent employee and theirline manager. Equally important a Sickness Absence Policywhich places a mutual obligation on both the employer and employeecan be a useful management tool in establishing a routine ofcommunication and achieving a balance between genuine concern andsupport for the individual and conduct which could be deemed to beoppressive, intrusive or even akin to harassment.
The overall consensus was thatearly intervention and proactive management coupled with goodcommunication was a key to reducing absence and saving costs. The greatest challenge of all is having the confidence to put allthe things we know make good sense into practice.
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.