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All present and correct, or rather, all well??
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development reports that there is an increase in “presenteeism”, that is, employees coming to work when ill. Furthermore, research by an insurance group reveals that a staggering 20 per cent of employees would come to work with symptoms that included vomiting and diarrhoea.
Much of this is put down to job security in the economy as a whole, but other important factors may be at play.
The loss of three day’s pay, before statutory sick pay kicks in, is a substantial loss to those on average earnings. To those at, or just above, the National Minimum Wage it may be devastating.
Peer pressure has long accounted for the lower absence levels among the teaching profession, and in the hard-pressed care sector that may apply too.
What can employers do?
- Set the bar. Create a realistic culture where employees do not feel an obligation to report to work when ill.
- Return-to-work interviews should separate the sheep from the goats. There is not just a responsibility on employees to come to work when they can, but there is also an obligation to stay away when they might infect others, be ineffective or create a safety hazard.
- Return-to-work interviews should also “trap” those who attempt to return to work while still ill.
- Be prepared to “juggle hours”. Inconvenient though this may be, infection in the workforce will be more so, obviously.
- Employees can choose to take holidays when they are sick – it is a right, and it may help to pay the bills. But note the point below; illness can arise from taking too few real holidays.
- Holidays are a stress reliever, they help restore the immune system and they make employees more effective at work.
- Consider developing a wellbeing policy (that fits your culture).
- Finally, watch for signs of illness in employees who are at work.
QCS provide a variety of policies to assist with these matters.
Malcolm Martin of Employer Solutions – QCS Human Resource Expert.