MANAGEMENT OF ILL HEALTH POLICY GUIDE FOR MANAGERS

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1 MANAGEMENT OF ILL HEALTH POLICY GUIDE FOR MANAGERS June

2 Introduction This document has been prepared in order to provide support for managers when implementing the Management of Ill Health Policy and procedure. It is intended to assist managers and provide guidance only, it is not intended to answer every question managers may have about absence management or deal with every situation that may arise. If, as a manager, you are unsure of what to do in any particular situation you could discuss the circumstances with another colleague, seek advice from HR or contact OHSAS. The guide contains information on the following areas: Return to Work Interviews Long term absence meetings Rehabilitation programmes This document has been developed by the Attendance Management Partnership Group under the leadership of Rona Webster, Director of Human Resources. 2

3 Management of ill health Consistent management of absence is crucial in reducing absence levels across NHS Fife, but management and promotion of attendance is a further factor that can assist with managing absence. Staff are more likely to attain a high level of attendance if there is a good working environment. This includes such things as: Clarity of roles & responsibilities and what is expected of them; Good working relationships; Personal and professional development opportunities; Good communication; An open management style; Quality of work; Good working environment Fairness in the treatment of staff issues. Some example of techniques to manage attendance include: Focusing on employee satisfaction, engagement and commitment at work Improving the physical working environment (e.g. safety standards, working conditions). Clear communication of the ill health Policy Management Training in operation of the Policy Fair consistent application of Family Friendly Policies Occupational Health Service and Counselling support Risk Analyses (safety and stress) Application of NHS Fife Stress and Substance Misuse Policies Health promotion (healthy eating, healthy lifestyle) Rehabilitation to work schemes Recognising good attendance The application of Staff Governance Standards and good employment policy, terms & conditions. By actively encouraging high levels of attendance at work whilst providing support and help to members of staff who have health problems, NHS Fife intends, through this Policy, to improve and support the health and well-being of staff at work and thereby reduce sickness absence. 3

4 RETURN TO WORK INTERVIEW CHECKLIST 1 Preparation Get together OHSAS reports and copies of correspondence with the staff member. Get details of his or her length of service and previous record of absence. Look at the pattern of absence. Is it regular or unusual? If you need any more information or help, who can give you this? Arrange a time and private office / place for the meeting, and tell the member of staff about it. Prepare an introduction (see section 2 below). Look at your checklist for structuring the meeting (see section 3 below). 2 Introduction Explain the aims of the meeting. Highlight the absence record and pattern (if any). Agree the initial aim that his or her attendance must improve. Ask him or her for suggestions on how s/he could improve attendance. Agree an action plan, with timescales, for this improvement. Outline next steps if performance does not improve. Set a date for another review. 4

5 3 Structure The following structure will help you to manage the interview sensitively and cover all the issues you need to look at. You should begin each item with an open-ended question to gain information and to open up the discussion. Remember to use only those sections or questions which are relevant to the individual circumstances - this is simply a list of prompts. (For example, you may already know that the person may not have any domestic issues related to their absence, so do not use these questions.) Introduction "You will be aware of our management of ill health policy, and as your manager I need to meet with you to talk this through with you. So, how are you? Are you feeling better? What was wrong?" Health issues "What do you feel about this report?" "How do you feel about your health?" "How do you feel about your work in relation to your health?" Domestic issues "How do you feel your domestic situation may affect your work, in the future?" "What can we do to help?" Work issues "Is there anything worrying you about your work?" "Is there anything we could look at to change?" Summary "So you feel the problem has been..." "You have also suggested... could be a solution." "If, together, we can find a way to achieve this do you agree we could sort this problem out?" Next steps Agree action Agree attendance target Set a date and venue for a further review These techniques should help you to promote attendance in a structured and fair way, and create a healthy and supportive working atmosphere. Showing a genuine concern for your staff will make them all the more willing to talk to you openly, before their problems keep them off work. 5

6 GUIDANCE NOTES FOR HEALTH REVIEW MEETING 1 Preparation Get together OHSAS reports (where appropriate) and copies of correspondence with the staff member. Get record of the absence and copies of medical certificates. If you need any more information or help, who can give you this? Arrange a time and private place for the meeting as agreed with the member of staff. Meeting can take place at the member of staff s home, at the workplace or other appropriate location (refer to HR for further guidance). Take notes at all meetings (HR present). Confirm in writing afterwards. Agree ongoing contact with the member of staff throughout the absence. Look at your checklist for structuring the meeting (see section 2). 2 Structure of the Meeting Introduction Explain the aims of the meeting that it is a general fact finding meeting in line with the Policy and Procedures. Emphasise the meeting is from a welfare point of view i.e. standard practice after a member of staff has been off long term sick for some time (normally 4 weeks) - will meet with them to get further details perhaps even a referral to OHSAS and review from there. Check medical certificates are up to date and when latest certificate is due to expire. 6

7 Possible Questions to ask The following structure will help you to manage the interview sensitively and cover all the issues you need to look at. You should begin each item with an open-ended question to gain information and to open up the discussion. Remember to use only those questions which are relevant to the individual circumstances - this is simply a list of prompts. How are you feeling? Nature of illness describe symptoms Cause of the illness if applicable? Had illness before? When For how long Did it result in time off work What helped in recovery at that time Been off for number of weeks has there been any change e.g., feeling better / worse / same? What is the Doctor stating regarding the illness / condition? On any medication if Yes details including - what effect does it have on you if you don t take? Undertaking any other treatment (e.g. counselling, therapy, etc)? Are you still able to carry out everyday activities i.e. out and about housework ability to concentrate etc? Likelihood of return to work in near future? Can we do anything to help / support from general point of view? Can we do anything specifically to help / facilitate a return to work, e.g. workplace adjustments, part time work due to medical grounds? If appropriate - Indicate a referral to OHSAS for a report on current medical condition (this may include obtaining medical reports from own GP and Specialists) When we receive OHSAS report will meet again to discuss report in more detail Set a date for a further meeting 7

8 During any periods of extended sickness absence, contact between the manager and the member of staff is particularly important. The purpose of the contact is to: reflect the genuine concern of a caring employer; find out the nature and progress of the illness and recovery; make sure the member of staff knows they must supply medical certificates; and explain and try to provide any support that may improve the staff member's health. It is important that managers apply a sensitive, consistent approach when reviewing individual circumstances in order to prevent anyone from feeling that particular members of staff are being singled out for special treatment. 8

9 GUIDANCE ON REHABILITATION PROGRAMMES Need for a Rehabilitation Programme Where an employee has been absent from work for a prolonged period due to sickness absence the Occupational Health & Safety Advisory Service (OHSAS) may recommend a phased return to work and a rehabilitation programme to assist the employee in re-adjusting to the workplace. The line manager must plan a rehabilitation programme taking account of OHSAS advice, the needs of the employee, the needs of the service and the impact on other employees in the department. The plan should be prepared in consultation with the employee, their representative where applicable and the HR Department. In addition to planning the return to the workplace the manager must ensure that s/he arranges to update the employee on any changes within the department/division, policies and work practices which may have changed during the employee s absence. Options which may be considered in preparing a rehabilitation programme are: a restriction on the duties which the employee can undertake; a restriction in the hours worked; a possible temporary change of post; support for other members of the team who may be affected. Rehabilitation Programme The manager should agree a rehabilitation programme with the employee and, where applicable, their representative which clearly details the following: the overall timescale of the programme; support to be provided to the employee; monitoring arrangements; arrangements for employees to raise concerns; details of duties; details of hours worked with incremental increase/target dates as appropriate; payment details; links/further assessments by the OHSAS. Monitoring and Review It is essential that during the rehabilitation programme the manager meets regularly with the employee to assess progress and identify and resolve any problems. If, during the course of the rehabilitation programme, problems are encountered there should be discussion on how best to resolve these involving the line manager, employee, their representative and an appropriate representative from the HR Department. It may be that further advice will be necessary from OHSAS. 9

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