The primary aim in cases of long-term absence is to facilitate a return to work at the earliest possible point. The secondary aim is to then support any return to work effectively to minimise the risk of any further absences. This guidance note provides additional guidance to support managers in the management of cases of long-term or ongoing absence.
The guidance focusses on 4 key areas:
- Maintaining Contact
- Obtaining Medical Advice
- Considering Supports/Adjustments
- Considering Progression to a Capability Hearing
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Managing long term absence
Employees should remain contactable whilst absent from work due to ill-health and managers in turn are responsible for ensuring that regular contact is maintained.
Maintaining contact extends beyond simply ensuring that employees submit medical certificates on time. It should serve to update both managers and employees on progress, both with regard to the employee’s absence but also on developments within the workplace. It is also through this contact that discussions can take place to increase understanding around the current position and it is not uncommon for this to lead to the creation of options (e.g. workplace adjustments) which support an employee to return to work earlier than they may have done previously.
In some cases, meeting within the workplace may not be appropriate however where possible, meeting within the workplace can help an absent employee maintain their connection with their work. Employees may be supported by a Trade Union Representative or work colleague at any absence meetings.
Important considerations at an early stage include identifying the cause of absence and taking appropriate action if possible. This may involve seeking medical advice.
It is also important to establish early on what the shared expectations are around contact. Informal contact should take place on a monthly basis as a minimum. This may be by telephone, but would ideally be face-to-face. This allows for quick, simple and effective communication to ens
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