The Secret Life of Managers – Long term sickness absence

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Posted in:HR and Employment|April 5, 2017 | Join the mailing list

Continuing our ‘Secret Life of Managers’ blog series which describes common issues experienced in the workplace from the point of view of a senior manager. This month the blog looks at long term sickness absence and how to manage this. 

In the hospitality sector, people’s health is paramount. In an industry where comfort and satisfaction is everything, being served food or drink by somebody with the flu can put you out of business. It is therefore imperative that sickness is treated seriously by both employees and management.

Recently, one of our bar managers who has been with the business for 3 years became ill. At first, it wasn’t particularly serious and we expected his return within a week or so. Unfortunately, he ended up being diagnosed with something a lot more serious.

My first concern was, of course, his and his family’s well-being, but I also had to consider the effect it would have on the business. I received advice on the best way to deal with this. In the first instance, I needed to have a formal meeting with him to establish several things:

• The likely date of his return
• Whether he could return to his role as a bar manager (his sickness was physical and it is quite a physically demanding job)
• If not, whether he could be redeployed
• What we could do to assist with his return to work.

At the meeting when the employee told me that he didn’t know the extent of the sickness or his likely date of return, I was advised by HR to consider obtaining a medical report from an occupational health doctor.

I was advised of the procedure for doing so which includes writing to the employee to obtain their consent. When I received the report back, I met with the employee to discuss its contents. The report advised a return within 4 to 6 months’ time.

Fortunately, the employee’s recovery was a lot quicker than expected and he returned to his old role after three months. We arranged adequate cover for him in the interim and made some adjustments on his return. At first, we ensured that he did not tire easily and gave him quiet shifts with plenty of breaks throughout. Several months later, he is back to a normal shift pattern and remains a highly regarded and integral member of the team.

To find out more about the issues raised in this post, or to discuss any queries regarding long term sickness absence get in touch with Michelle Gray or call +44 (0) 161 829 2599.
The information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by berg or any of its partners or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

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