Many small business owners feel they have no options when employees are on long term sick
This simply isn’t true but long term absence is certainly an area that business owners that we support feel nervous about tackling so here are our top tips
A comprehensive absence policy will set out the steps that the Company may take for a variety of absences including long term absence due to sickness. This will include provisions such as the trigger points where medical information may be requested by ways of GP reports or referral to Occupational Health.
Track absence effectively
Making sure that all absence is correctly recorded will help identify much earlier where there may be possible medical issued with ongoing or underlying medical problems. We often see that triggers are missed as absence records have been sketchy. Use of HR software such as HR Toolkit helps this function to be done with ease.
If a period of absence has exceeded 4 weeks with no real indication of a return to work then it may be the time to consider whether referring for medical advice and guidance is appropriate. This may be through a GPs report where you may write to the employees GP for guidance or a referral to Occupational Health. Get guidance from a HR professional on the best option based on each individual case, the purpose of any referral is to ascertain how a return to work can be facilitated and how you can best support your employee.
Smaller businesses do find it much harder to leave roles open indefinitely in long term cases and whilst I am not advocating prematurely exiting employees from the business due to prolonged absence this may be a decision that needs to be made. Always get guidance before making this decision to ensure you have exhausted all options and that any dismissal is handled fairly.
Much as absence can be a difficult situation to handle, these tips will help you make the process as positive as possible to help you achieve the outcome of supporting and getting valued employees back in the workplace.
We offer a complimentary consultation to any business that may be experiencing these issues and may want some guidance and so please call 0844 8797286 for help and advice.
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