Like many business owners, Niel does a fair amount of networking. It’s a great way to raise awareness of what you do, but also to simply build relationships with fellow business people. After a while people come to know precisely what it is you do, and will invariably come to you when they have a problem in your area of expertise.
This is precisely what happened to Niel recently.
A fellow networking member advised he had two members of staff who were off on long-term sick. As a result, he had two areas of concern he wanted to pick his brain about.
His first issue what that he wanted to support both members, but wasn’t sure how best he could do that. His biggest concern was that by contacting them to see how they were, they would feel pressured to hurry up and return to work. Whilst of course he did want them to return to work, the last thing he wanted was to add to any concerns they had.
Equally, he was getting concerned about the huge impact their ongoing absence was having on his business. As a result of being down two members of staff day to day performance was being affected. Client relations were also potentially suffering, and there was a financial impact as he was having to hire temporary staff to cover the workload.
On top of that, he was also paying £92.05 per week, per staff member (i.e. an average of £736.40 per month) in Statutory Sick Pay. This was a huge issue for him as he is unable to reclaim that SSP.
He was genuinely of the belief that he couldn’t commence any absence management process until the end of the 28 weeks SSP period; however, Niel was able to explain that such a process could, and indeed should, commence immediately.
Such a process may vary depending on each individual and their circumstances, but generally speaking, it is advisable to hold regular welfare meetings with each individual, as well as keeping in regular touch with them to see how they’re doing. The longer a member of staff is off sick, the harder it can be for them to feel they can return, especially if no contact has been maintained.
You should hold a capability meeting with them to discuss whether they are going to be able to return to work and in what time frame.
Following this, you must undertake an occupational health assessment. This will allow you to determine (amongst other things):
- the nature of their illness
- if there is any prospect of them being able to return to work
- whether their illness can be classed as a disability and if any reasonable adjustments need to be made to help with their return to work
You may then hold a second capability meeting with them to discuss whether they are going to be able to return to work, discuss the medical and managerial reports and if they are not likely to be ready to return, then it may be that you wish to dismiss on the grounds of ill-health.
Long term sickness is a very delicate process to manage, and not one employers should simply “have a go” at resolving for themselves. When things go wrong, the best you can hope for is that you simply alienate someone; at worst, you may find yourself at an employment tribunal!
Here at People Matters we are able to help with every stage of the process, including offering occupational health and assistance with the capability process (including writing your polices and procedures).
If staff long term absence is making you feel sick, speak to the team at People Matters on 0161 738 1808 or email [email protected]
We are People Matters because your people matter.
He was so pleased, he signed up there and then! Who says networking doesn’t work and HR can’t add value?