Are you nervous about long term absence?

Are you nervous about long term absence?

  • Date: Monday 20th February 2017
  • PDF: Download

Since its launch in 2015, uptake on the Government’s Fit for Work Service has been slow.

Latest statistics show that, while 82% of employers are now aware of the service, only 21% have utilised this additional free support and out of those, 60% claim that they have not found the advice as helpful as they had hoped.


The biggest criticism seems to be that referrals can only be made once the employee has been off for 4 weeks, indicating a positive trend towards early intervention by employers.


So how can you best utilise Fit for Work? Here comes a quick 5 step guide to long term absence management:


Early detection

Don’t wait until your team member has been off for 4 weeks – conversations and regular updates are important and work both ways.  Make it clear from the beginning that you’re there to help and support and will encourage your staff member to return as soon as they are able to.



...don’t patronise!  Every person is different, pain thresholds and mental strains can’t be measured.  So empathise, rather than judge, and leave medical assessments to the professionals.


Set Goals

It’s important to make agreements and stick to them.  Agree when you will next catch up and how (in person, on the phone,...) and make sure you drive this schedule forward.  Be clear and honest about your expectations as an employer.


Keep it professional

Home visits and conversations around illness can be daunting and intimidating for both parties.  Try and be sensitive towards your employees’ dignity and respect their privacy.  Ultimately, what you really need to know will be communicated via occupational health professionals, if your team member doesn’t want to open up.


Make tough decisions if they need to be made

Sometimes, employees are unable to return to their role.  Sometimes, they are unable to return at all and this will be a decision that in most cases has to be made by you.  Get some advice from your ADVISOR team on how to handle the legalities.  Just remember, ignoring the issues won’t make it go away...



Source: Manuela Grossmann, SSG

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