How to support your employees during absences?

How to support your employees during absences?

Absence management can be tricky.  To be effective you need a balance between supporting your employees to stay in or return to work and ensuring the business is not affected by their absence. Managing sickness absence is inevitable for any employer, but if you have clear and appropriate policies in place this should assist with effectively supporting your employees.

Your policies should outline expected attendance levels and detail  terms and conditions relating to incapacity due to sickness or injury including procedures and any provision for payment.

However, it is not enough to have the policies in place, good communication with your employees is also key.  The type of contact will vary dependant on the nature of the absence and employers should take care to balance support and concern for the employee with the need to secure a return to work.  Too much contact can be counter-productive and add unneeded stress but not enough contact could leave the employee feeling out of touch.

For short term and ad-hoc periods of absence employers should consider whether there is an underlying cause. They should investigate this early to see if any reasonable adjustments can be made to assist the employee and prevent further absences. 

Return-to-work interviews can provide an opportunity to discuss any issues which might have caused the absence and provide an opportunity to discuss whether any support or assistance is required.

For long-term absences (planned or unplanned) employers should seek as much information as possible from employees; perhaps requesting medical reports if appropriate.  You might also consider consulting an independent medical practitioner or occupational health to ascertain the employee’s ability to carry out their role with or without any reasonable adjustments being made.  It is also important with long-term absences to put a return to work plan together with the employee to suit their circumstances.

Any records regarding employee absence due to sickness should be kept, taking care to store the information correctly so not to breach data protection regulations.

For more information on how we could assist your business, contact Vicki or one of the team for a friendly chat, today.

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