A recent survey ran by People Managemnt found that in the last year, only a third of GPs had referred someone on long term absence under the Fit for Work scheme, with the other two-thirds not referring a single person. Of those that had made uses of the scheme, 40% said that not a single person they had referred had returned to work.
While some may see value in the scheme, others may see their own occupational health schemes to hold more value. Effectively managing long term absence should be ingrained within company culture, with policies and procedures in places to ensure that managers undertake best practice when managing absence and helping employees return to their role in the workplace.
Managing absence starts with your management team, it is vital that you train your line managers in managing sickness absence and conducting return to work interviews.
Keeping regular contact with an employee throughout their absence is key, establishing the appropriate method of contact is important, and for long term absence consider arranging welfare meetings.
During an employee’s absence it is important to assess their working environment, make reasonable adjustments to help ease them back into their role and creating a more suited working environment overall.
Reducing future risks is important, employee absence or sickness can be an eye-opener, assessing the workplace and identifying any risks that could contribute to future ill health will help reduce repeat occurrence and risk to the health and safety of your workforce. Holding a return to work meeting upon an absentee’s return will further aid you in outlining any requirements needed to ensure that an employee returning from ill health can perform in their job role once again. It also provides an opportunity to explore any other options with regards to an employee’s return to the workplace, as a phased return to work may be a more suitable option to help ease them back into their role.
Having a clearly stated absence policy that is communicated to your staff, can help keep the discussions around absence, your employees return to work and their health open and honest, and also protect your business in cases of repeat and frequent absence.
If you need any assistance in developing your company’s absence policy, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the HPC team today.
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