Sensitive handling of sickness at work
The CBI estimates that the annual cost to British business of sick days is £13 billion, and the average worker takes seven sick days a year. Twelve per cent of sick days are estimated to be bogus by the CBI.
Sickness is a sensitive issue which requires correct handling if you are to avoid any inference that you have been unfair or heavy-handed: on the other hand you cannot be expected to stand back and watch absenteeism decimate the work force and extinguish your profits.
Absence through sickness costs businesses a huge amount of money and wastes management time, placing a burden on those employees who conscientiously soldier on. So what can be done?
The most important thing is to have an appropriate policy, not a dusty piece of paper lingering in a filing cabinet, but active practices that have been communicated, have teeth and clear consequences.
An active 'return to work' procedure is invaluable. An employee who has been sick should be interviewed on returning to work, even after a short absence. Turn up the heat on employees who are "sick" around weekends and Bank Holidays. Tackling employees and asking them to explain their absence on a regular basis has been shown to produce a deterrent effect.
You need to be mindful of the interaction between sickness absence and disability and other forms of discrimination. Also, persistent absenteeism can be a symptom of stress and should ring alarm bells if a negligence claim is to be avoided.
It can be a tricky course to steer and one which you cannot afford to get wrong with the potential for unlimited financial claims in the employment tribunal.
Keeping a finger on what is going on around sickness will have a significant impact on productivity. It is better to be proactive than reactive - this will always be the cheaper option.
Click here or click on the image at the top of the article to view as a pdf.