The solution for getting employees back to work after long term sickness absence, is down to their Managers behaviour, reports the new guidance from BOHRF, CIPD, Healthy Working Lives and the HSE

  8th September 2010      
 CIPD, Company News, Human Resources

Recent guildance was launched last month with the intention of supporting managers who assist those returning to work after suffering from long term illnesses. It is thought that this can have a significant effect in stopping employers with health issues, fall out of work in general.

The British Occupational Health Research Foundation, the Charted Institute of Personal Development (CIPD), Healthy Working Lives and the Health and Safety Executive  produced the guidance, which stresses the important actions required of managers to support those returning to work in a quick way and to ensure that they achieve longevity in their  role.

The guidance, Manager Support for Return to Work Following Long Term Sickness Absence, is very appropriate after the government’s new ‘fit note’ (which was used to help GPs recommending that more patients get back to work as soon as possible) was introduced.

Ben Willmott, senior public policy adviser, from CIPD, commented: “Line managers play a crucial role in deciding whether returning to work is part of an individual’s recovery and rehabilitation or the catalyst to further breakdown and deterioration.

Steve Bell, strategic director at the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives, further added: “This guidance can help equip line managers with the right skills so they have the confidence to encourage people to come back to work sooner rather than later and then support their rehabilitation effectively.

“In many cases where this does not happen people will be left to deteriorate at home, sometimes for months at a time, feeling increasingly alienated from the workplace. This can lead to long-term incapacity and unemployment.”

The guidance uses research from employees, line managers, HR, health and safety and occupational practitioners. All research was performed by a group of psychologists from Goldsmiths University of London, Loughborough University and Affinity Health at Work. It went on to aid the development of an ability framework to assist employers with teaching their managers with the appropriate skills and a questionnaire which was created to measure their related behaviours, including:

– Keeping in regular contact with the employee while they are off sick

– Reassuring them that they still have their job to come back to

– Stopping them from a hasty return to work before they are ready

– Providing a phased return to work

– Assisting with adjustments at the workplace at a slow and steady rate

– Asking them for permission to keep the company informed of their illness

– Encouraging other staff members to be supportive with the individuals rehabilitation

– Holding regular meetings to talk about the individual’s condition and the effects that it may have on their work.

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