The lethal combination of the end of Dry January and long-awaited first post-Christmas payday, undoubtedly have a significant role to play. Excuses range from the banal, “man flu” to the elaborate, “I can’t make it in today, as I won’t be released on bail until Tuesday #crazyweekend”!
Binge drinking and poor financial judgment aside, the link between the rising prevalence of mental health issues in our workforce and absenteeism, cannot be overstated. Dealing with sickness absence has become a minefield for employers, not eased by the complexities of data protection and discrimination legislation.
Top Tips for employers dealing with sickness absence:
- Hold a back to work interview. This will deter the Monday morning club and serve as an opportunity for genuinely sick employees to voice their concerns. A culture of communication is key.
- Use tools such as the Bradford Factor to note the frequency and duration of sickness absences. Remember to adjust triggers for those absent due to disability, pregnancy or maternity leave.
- Consider what adjustments can be made within the workplace to facilitate an employee’s early return to work, for example, a special chair to alleviate back pain.
- Don’t make assumptions about an employee’s state of health. Not all illnesses are visible to the naked eye.
- Don’t check an employee’s social media account to see what they are up to whilst on sick leave. This raises issues related to privacy and data protection.
- Don’t rely solely on a contractual right to obtain a medical report on an employee. The employee must consent to the questions that you intend to ask the medical advisor.
- Don’t shy away from discussing health-related issues. Following a sickness absence procedure is a good way to keep communication open and manage expectations on both sides.
For those seeking advice on the issues raised in this article, I am pleased to confirm that we have 100% turn out at Benest & Syvret this morning and we would be delighted to assist.