Proactive Absence Management
The Cost of Sickness Absence
Proactive Absence Management – Inaction makes things worse
There are many reasons why people stay off work, from injury to illness to bullying and harassment, stress and burnout, childcare or job hunting. Whatever the reason for the absence, over a period of time it can become an increasing problem for you managing your organisation.
According to the CIPD (2016) the average time for an employee to take off per year due to sickness is 6.3 days.
What happens when an employee is off for a long period of time or has a repetitive absences? Do you know how to manage more complex absences such as terminal illness like cancer or absences caused by a mental health condition?
Stress is the most common cause of long term absences (CIPD, 2016)
Why you may need our HR Medical Specialist to step in and help you manage workplace absences:
Having the time and resources to dedicate to absences
Let us take on your staff absences, freeing up your time. Our HR Medical Specialists are experts in handling these cases and can support you. We can quickly engage with you and your employee to work towards an early return to work.
Understanding an illness and why someone is off work
Our HR Medical Specialists are all nurses and medical professionals who can get to the bottom of an absence. They can get to the bottom of understanding what is causing the absence, whether someone is “swinging the lead” and what your options are.
Handling delicate, sensitive or more complex illnesses
With their extensive medical backgrounds, our HR Medical Specialists are confident in handling complex illnesses such as mental health conditions like depression or terminal illnesses such as cancer. These are the types of absences that managers can struggle to know what to say and how to handle.
Conducting proper and effective Return to Work Meetings
Return to Work Meetings are an essential part of managing sickness and other absences. It is a cost effective management tool that can reduce the number and length of absences. We can support you in conducting these meetings or our HR Consultants can step in and conduct them for you.
Understanding your obligations and duties as an employer
As an employer you are subject to a number of regulations and laws to look after your staff. One of the most confusing areas is understanding when an illness causing absences could be a Disability under the Equality Act 2010. Our HR Medical Specialists work closely with our sister company’s Employment Lawyers to advise you on this.
Liaising with GPs or Medical Specialists
It is important to have the correct records and information when dealing with sickness absences. Our HR Medical Specialists are experts at liaising with GPs and other medical professionals to ensure you have all the fit notes and paperwork you need to manage an employee’s absence. Our HR Consultants can advise you on what “paperwork” you need when managing absences.
The Solution – HR Medical Specialists
By managing your sickness in partnership with a HR Medical Specialist you can finally take control of your sickness management in the secure knowledge that the process is being managed in an appropriate and cost effective manner. Our HR Medical Specialists can help you ensure that you have:
- Accurate records of absenteeism
- Contact with your employee maintained
- Cost effective workplace adjustments investigated and even implemented
- Alternative cost effective solutions or treatments sought for to achieve an earlier return to work
- Return to work plans devised, agreed, implemented and reviewed
Our HR Medical Specialists are all HR Consultants with a medical background and specialist knowledge in physiotherapy, mental health, occupational health or social work.
How Our HR Medical Specialists Can Help
- Carry out return to work meetings
- Help you avoid or manage long term absences more effectively
- Keep a note of contacts made, provide written reports with regards to measures that may facilitate a return to work or reduce episodes of absenteeism
- Identify issues which may be affecting performance or attendance
- Give advice on medication that can have side effects on things like physical stamina, mood, driving, machinery operation and safety critical tasks
- Identify any early interventions that may help the employee regain their fitness
- Be flexible, treat each case individually, but on a fair and consistent basis
- Give the employee the opportunity to discuss their health or other concerns
- Take time to get to know your employees and the things that affect their health
Managing or Reducing Absences
Carrying out return to work meetings (RWM) is an essential aspect of managing absence. The properly conducted RWM is proven to be a cost effective management tool to reduce both the number of episodes and the length of time taken off sick. However, managers often feel nervous about getting information from employees, particularly if it involves embarrassing or distressing issues. In those situations the interview could become counterproductive.
A poorly conducted RWM can raise a multitude of issues for the employer, all of which can have a serious impact on the smooth running of the organisation. A failure to understand the nature and length of an illness can lead to a failure to plan absence cover or manage a disability.
These are very real everyday issues for which there are no hard and fast rules, but with the right approach, the situation can be handled in a sympathetic manner and provide practical, cost effective solutions for you.
Repetitive and/or Long Term Sickness Management
The management of repetitive or long term sickness can become particularly complex and if handled badly result in significant financial losses. Long term illness often involves problems that managers find difficult and distressing to manage. For example some people find it difficult to discuss certain conditions such as cancer.
Specific employees may need help and support to stay at work or return to work, these may include those employees:
- Who become ill or injured and whose job performance could be affected if their condition gets worse;
- Who are already in poor health, or experiencing stress, and whose condition might be made worse unless the system of working is changed;
- Whose condition already affects their job performance and may begin to affect their attendance;
- Whose condition has resulted in long-term absence who need help to return; or
- Who become disabled as defined by the Equality Act 2010
Our aim is to help you identify the root causes for absence, plan and implement cost effective measures to assist employees back into the workplace as soon as possible, reducing the cost of sickness to your business.
The initial contact will usually be by telephone contact with one of our HR Medical Specialists who will use their specialist medical knowledge to try and identify the specific reason for the absence, and develop a way forward to facilitate the employee’s early return to work in a safe and non-threatening manner.
Return to Work Meetings
Central to managing staff is an open discussion with the employee to determine the cause of their absence. This discussion can also help identify any hidden underlying causes such as bullying, stress (work related or not), it can help establish if the illness/injury is work related. Early identification of these issues allows early interventions which facilitates an earlier return to work-reducing costs for you.
Using an HR Medical Specialist is very effective in the management of employees who have multiple, short duration sickness absences. The HR Medical Specialist can put sickness into context with previous absences, identify links and then in partnership with you to offer cost effective solutions to the problem from either a medical point of view or an HR perspective.
This can be supported with comprehensive and decisive reports provided to you which can act as evidence if needs be going forward.
We work in partnership with our sister company Loch Health who are specialists in Absence Management and provide on site Wellness Checks to help prevent absenteeism in the first place by fostering a healthy working environment. For more information about Loch Health’s services please click here.
We are also supported by the Employment Lawyers from our sister company Loch Employment Law to ensure you are legally compliant when managing absences. The employment lawyers can ensure you meet your legal obligations on reasonable adjustments to limit the risk of a successful disability claim.