Dealing with sickness in the workplace – Guest article by ClockworkHR

Let’s face it – no one is immune to every bug and virus known to man.  It is inevitable that at some point members of staff will need to stay off work due to sickness or ill health.
The majority of times a couple of days rest and recuperation is all that is needed. Your valued staff member is soon back with you, bright eyed and bushy tailed.
However, what do you do if a member of staff is continually taking time off or perhaps has been off ill for a prolonged period?

What does the law say?

In the UK if an employee is off work due to illness for more than 7 days, they must obtain a “fit note” (also known as a “sick note”) from a GP or a hospital doctor.
The 7 days includes non-working days such as weekends and bank holidays.
The employee should provide the fit note to their employer in order to receive the appropriate sick pay.
The fit note could say “not fit for work” or “may be fit for work” with suggestions of adjustments. The latter puts the responsibility onto the employer to offer adjustments or changes that would make it easier for the employee to return to work. However, these are not compulsory.
Long term sick – this term applies to an employee who is off work for more than 4 consecutive weeks.

How should you approach the matter?

Approaching any employee about their sickness absence should be done with sensitivity.  Especially if the reason for their absence is because of a mental health issue.
Being pushy or unsympathetic can often make them feel worse, which in turn could lead to more time off. Try to find ways to help them feel reassured about coming back to work.  Perhaps by offering reduced hours or amended duties.
At the same time if you suspect an employee’s reasons for absence are not genuine or feel that an excessive amount of time off is being taken it is advisable to keep accurate absence records and monitor an employee’s sick leave. An employer may invoke the disciplinary or capability procedure to deal with the sickness absence.  They will need to obtain medical information along the way.

What can be done to help the employee?

Where an employee has been off long term, keep in touch with them. Have regular chats and discuss ways they could be accommodated.
Consider a phased return to work or, if reasonable, offer flexible or part time working.
If an employee is classed as disabled, the employer is legally obliged to make reasonable, necessary adjustments to enable the employee to return to work.

Can you dismiss an employee?

An employer can choose to dismiss an employee for long term ill health and/or excessive absence.
However, caution should be taken, advice should be obtained and other options explored before taking this step. An employee may decide to take their case to an employment tribunal if they think they’ve been unfairly dismissed or discriminated against.

If you need help with your HR get in touch with ClockworkHR

Sarah Seastron
01756 790124
info@clockworkhr.co.uk
http://www.clockworkhr.co.uk/

Welding Fumes

Guest Article by Craig Batty of Workplace Exposure

Change in Enforcement Expectations for Welding Fumes

In February this year, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) announced a significant “change in enforcement expectations” regarding welding fumes. Read more

Display Screen Equipment (DSE)

Display Screen Equipment

Prolonged working with computers can be associated with neck, shoulder, back or arm pain, as well as with fatigue and eyestrain.

Research has found that a high proportion of DSE workers report aches, pains or eye discomfort. These aches and pains are sometimes called Upper Limb Disorders (ULDs). These can include a range of medical conditions such as RSI (Repetitive Strain Injuries).  In addition nine in ten British businesses are failing to meet their legal responsibilities to protect their workforce’s sight, according to a new study commissioned by the charity Eye Health UK and Vision Express Opticians. Read more

Working Safely with Display Screen Equipment (DSE)

The HSE have redesigned their online guidance for DSE.

It now features a step-by-step guide to working safely with DSE and covers topics from workstations and assessments, to eyesight testing.

Take a look at the redesigned guidance.

Their website also has related resources including their free, downloadable publication Working with display screen equipment (DSE)

Skin Health

Our skin is amazing. On average it is about 1.5mm thick, contains 17km of blood vessels and is just as important for our wellbeing as a healthy heart or lungs. So it’s not surprising that the HSE has guidelines for companies on effective skin health surveillance.

Read more

Musculoskeletal Disorders

The HSE have updated their guide to Musculoskeletal Disorders (INDG143).

This leaflet (previously published in 2012) provides practical guidance on reducing the risk of injury from hazardous manual handling. It helps employers comply with their duties under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. Read more

Look After Your Musculoskeletal System!

We all do it, twisting, pulling, pushing, lifting, putting strain on our bodies, especially our backs! But do we do it correctly? And do we actually do as much as we can to prevent injury? Read more

Vaping at work

Vaping is seen as the acceptable face of smoking, but should employers sanction it at work?
Smoking cigarettes, pipes, cigars or herbal cigarettes in indoor work places has been banned since 1 July 2007, but e-cigarettes do not burn tobacco, so the law treats them the same way as nicotine patches, gums etc. Individual organisations can ban their use in the workplace if they wish, the same as banning alcohol, hot drinks or eating in the workplace. Read more

Health Surveillance

What exactly is health surveillance?

Health surveillance isn’t just an annual assessment, but an ongoing system of health checks for employees exposed to a specific hazard, e.g. noise, vibration, solvents etc.  Read more

Helping Great Britain Work Well campaign

The HSE has unveiled its new health and safety strategy with the emphasis on “health”. The “Helping Great Britain Work Well” strategy has been developed in a bid to ensure everyone in the workforce has a role to play in reducing the complexity of health at work.   The strategy is tailored around six themes – acting together, tackling ill health, managing risk well, supporting small employers, keeping pace with change and sharing success. Read more