28 days later.  Is too late.

Early intervention before the absence becomes long term

Most companies that have an absence policy define what is considered Long Term  Absence. There are usually management tasks linked to absence that is categorised as long term. Commonly, managers are asked to refer long term absentees to Occupational Health and to have a welfare meeting with the employee. But how many organisations would start these activities already as soon as the manager knows the absence is likely to become long term?

The early intervention mantra

In absence management, early intervention is the golden rule. We have written about the scary statistics about how the likelihood of return to work reduces as the absence continues. After just 4 weeks of absence, 20% of absentees never return to work. Yet many companies use that somewhat arbitrary 4 week marker as their first trigger to act.

Act on Day-1

As a Day-1 Absence Management company, we of course recommend that employers should not waste any time, but act on the first day of absence if the warning signs are there that the absence is of high risk to become long term. This could mean offering support to employees with mental health concerns from the first day of the absence or a referral to Occupational Health or, better yet, physiotherapy for back problems.

Of course, you won’t always know which absences will develop into long term cases. Each absence is unique and sometimes employees present with a different reason for the absence, to mask the underlying reasons.

28 days later…

Rather than wait 28 days, and reduce the chances of a successful return by 20%, we propose that employers should take action as soon as the employee tells them they are going to be off for 2 weeks or longer. Not only should we support absentees who have already been off 2 weeks but also those whose expected return date is in 2 weeks. If an employee sends in a doctor’s note that signs them off for 2 weeks, that is the ideal time to review what action is needed to make sure the employee recovers to good health and can successfully return in 2 weeks’ time.

Engage absence management software now offers expected as well as actual lenghts of absence as a condition for referral or management review. And if the employee is looking to be off for a long time because they are waiting for an NHS procedure or specialist appointment, our partners over at Patient Advocate can help the employer expedite access to these NHS services – without the need for private health insurance!