One of HR’s biggest challenges is long-term sickness absence. Even with traditional occupational health reports, most managers struggle with the minefield of long-term sick staff.
The Office for National Statistics reported that in 2016, 2.5 million working days were lost to long-term sickness absence, with companies reporting increases in absence.
Here are some guidelines to help get long term absentees back to work:
1. Conduct regular welfare meetings – using home visits if necessary. Discuss the prognosis and talk about modified job roles, adapted environments and possible return-to-work dates, offering plans to assist on return to work.
2. Talk to staff facing depression, stress or anxiety. Open discussion will help find a solution.
3. As a manager, take time to understand chronic conditions and have an understanding of how it may progress and how the employee can adapt.
4. During a phased return to work, be honest about required duties. Make reasonable adjustments – a requirement if the employee is regarded as disabled under the Equality Act.
5. Do not assume how a particular condition will affect job performance. Discuss with the employee the extent of their ability to work.
6. Keep in touch. Conduct regular meetings and ensure that you are constantly monitoring progress of amended duties or a phased return to work.