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Case Study: Sick of being off work?

The Client
The client is a charity provides support for adults with learning disabilities including a day-care centre that puts on a wide variety of activities for the people it looks after. They employ lots of activity co-ordinators as well as staff to work in the kitchen.

The Challenge
There had been a history of a few members of staff who had taken a significant amount of sick leave. Their sick pay entitlement was very generous for the sector, so there was no real incentive to come back to work that quickly. The manager did not want to penalise those members of staff whom he felt were genuinely ill and whose presence might pass on infectious conditions, but on the other hand wanted to encourage staff to come back as soon as they were well.

The Solution
Helen discussed the objectives of the sick pay scheme and advised on amendments to it so that it would not penalise staff who were genuinely ill but would provide a stronger incentive to return to work rather than linger at home longer than necessary. She also put in place a structure so that lots of short term absences would trigger a more in-depth review than the regular return to work interviews. This was accepted by the Board of Trustees and rolled out to the staff.

The Results
The system was introduced gradually so that those on the previous scheme were not disadvantaged and it was accepted by all members of staff. The first review of a significant period of absence for one member of staff showed the manager the benefit of having such a review as it helped him understand in more detail why a particular employee had been absent and how he could now help her remain at work.

Key words: Absence Management; Return to work interview; sick pay entitlement; sick leave; incentive; absence review.

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