This is a myth.
It is not uncommon for a capability procedure to stall or even come to a complete standstill because the employee is refusing to attend a capability meeting. Without the meeting going ahead, the employer is unable to continue with the necessary stages of the process and a resolution one way or another remains pending. This does not have to be the case, however, since a capability meeting can also be held in the employee’s absence. As long as the employee has been given reasonable opportunity to attend or to submit responses in writing, the employer can justifiably proceed without the employee present. Continue reading
You might think, as many do, that Return to Work (RTW) interviews are only necessary when an employee has been off work due to a serious illness or injury or for a long time. In fact, the opposite is true. Continue reading
Myth. Mental health issues can be complex and vary widely in severity. It is not always clear to the sufferer if their symptoms amount to a defined illness and even if they would like to seek help, the prospect of being diagnosed with a mental health condition – and the stigma that goes with it – can be daunting. Therefore, it’s good to know that anyone can get help without it becoming a note on their GP records.
NHS mood indicator
If you are worried that you or one of your employees may have minor or even major symptoms of mental ill health, the NHS have an online ‘mood indicator’ that can help in the first instance. It asks questions on common causes and indicators of stress or depression and then gives you a possible diagnosis and severity rating with information on the next steps you should take to gain help or advice.
No matter if the worries stem from work or home, there are several government schemes which allow anybody to apply for free and impartial advice on how to cope. The levels of intervention vary scheme by scheme and can be accessed both via self-referral or referral by a GP.
Access to Work scheme
One of these resources is the Access to Work scheme, which aims specifically to help those suffering from mental health issues that are impacting on their work. As long as you are employed, if you have symptoms of stress or other mental health conditions and if you feel that those symptoms are impacting on your ability to do your job or continue attending work, you qualify for the Access to Work scheme. Without the need for a formal diagnosis.
The Access to Work mental health support service is free and offers employees support for a 26 week period. The employee seeking support may be absent from work or at work but concerned about their ability to continue working. Referrals can be made by the individuals themselves or with the help of a third party, such as the employer. The support is entirely confidential and although the consultants will aim to involve the employer in the rehabilitation process, this is done on the employees’ terms. Best and most lasting results can be achieved when the employee and employer work together to find a long term plan for maintaining the employee in employment so the consultants will try to help the employee achieve the necessary level of trust and cooperation with their management.
Anonymous helplines may also be a stepping stone toward resolving mental health problems. The Helplines Partnership lists all available mental health helplines and contact details for further advice and help. The NHS wellbeing pages also list many helplines and help centres as well as providing fact sheets for positive mental health and wellbeing.
Early intervention is most effective
It is best to get help as early as possible so even if you or your employee are suffering from only a few or only minor symptoms of stress or depression, it is best to research the options before the situation exacerbates. Where possible, managers should be mindful of the warning signs and help employees by signposting them to support resources where relevant.
There are two common misconceptions about return to work after illness: 1) that you have to be fully recovered to return and 2) that you cannot return until a medical certificate runs out. Excluding contagious diseases or health and safety reasons barring a return, “you don’t have to be 100% OK to return to work. The earlier you can return to work the better. Work is often part of treatment, and getting back to work is part of the recovery process” (Professor Burton, NHS). Continue reading
Substance abuse is contentious issue in the workplace and managers often draw a hard line when it comes to addiction. Whether the problem relates to alcohol or drugs the workplace issues are generally similar, but many wrongly believe that substance abuse amounts as grounds for instant dismissal. Continue reading
It is commonplace to think that if your employees are off sick, you should not ‘bug’ them with what could feel like ‘intrusive’ phone calls or e-mails. Some even think that it could be classed as harassment to keep in regular contact with a sick employee. This is a myth. Continue reading
Fit Note was introduced in 2010. Since then, many employers mistakenly think that they are obligated to implement suggestions made by a GP on a fit note. In fact, this is a myth. The Fit Note is intended to issue guidance on how an employee can return to work in the short term before they are expected to be fully fit for normal working duties. This means that the suggestions made on the Fit Note are expected to be temporary and should not impact on the employee returning to their full duties, eventually. Continue reading
Despite the fact that you may not have to pay the employee when they are off, there are other direct and indirect costs to the business when an employee is absent.
All absence carries direct and indirect costs
Managers may often feel that they ‘know’ when employees are faking an absence. The gut feeling may be based on their personal relationship with the employee or the fact that they have noticed patterns of absence e.g. repeatedly taking sick days on a Friday. Relying on instict is not an approach we recommend. This article explains the best practice for addressing absences that you think may not be genuine.
Absence is a management issue, not a medical one. That is why similar organisations with similar work profiles can have very different absence levels. The difference is not that the employees in one company are more ill. The difference is that one company is managing absence better than the other one.
Any absence is a cost to the employer, regardless what the line of work or sick pay policies. And if absence is not measured, it can’t be managed. Therefore, it’s always recommended to start recording absence ideally before it becomes a problem. However, if you’re looking for a solution to turn around a culture of poor attendance, it is never too late to start.