It’s not always easy to know what to do when someone goes off sick. How long do you wait until you speak to them? Can you make decisions when they are off sick? Can you contact them? So many questions!
You must manage the sickness absence, immediately. After 7 days sickness the employee must provide a Fit Note. This will advise if the person can return to work in a phased or modified way, or if they should remain off work. The Fit Note provides the information you need to allow you to pay the employee company sick pay or statutory sick pay.
Without the Fit Note the absence is unauthorised.
Fit for work assessment
Once someone has been absent from work for 4 weeks you can request a Fit for Work Assessment. Provided that the employee agrees, they will have phone call with a health professional within two days of the referral. If the health professional believes they need a face-to-face discussion this will then be arranged within five days.
This free service is designed to help SMEs and small businesses develop a return to work plan for employees with long-term sickness absence. There are certain criteria that must be met before this service is invoked. The employee must agree to use the service, and the plan will only be shared with the employer if the employee agrees.
The Return to Work Plan
The Return To Work Plan will suggest the means of integrating the employee back to work on a phased return. The aim is to build up the working hours to get back to the normal hours. The Plan also suggests interventions that will facilitate a return to work.
The plan is then discussed with the employee and, provided it is workable, it can be implemented. The employee will return to work in a phased manner with relevant temporary or permanent adjustments put in place.
So, what you should you do?
Firstly review your sickness absence procedure to determine how the Return to Work Plan can be integrated into your sickness absence procedures as another management tool. If you don’t have a sickness absence procedure you should develop one as soon as possible. You can’t consistently manage sickness absence if you don’t know what you are doing! Secondly, train managers in how to handle sickness absence. Train them in how they should handle difficult conversations. And, finally use the process you put in place. It will work for you and allow you to manage sickness absence.
Call us if you would like help streamlining your current sickness absence process, or if you need to develop your process from scratch.