It’s difficult when your employees are off sick, and it can be a stressful time for everyone in the workplace. However, we often forget about the impact it has on the employees that are away from work. While they are away from their desk, and when they are ready to come back to it, it is your job as an employer to ensure that they receive the support they need throughout the process.
Sick Leave: What You Need to Know
There are different types of illness. The sick leave we are referring to isn’t when an employee calls in for a day off because they have a cold or flu bug. This is the kind of illness (or injury) that means they will be off work for an extended period of time. This is commonly down to mental health conditions, physical injury, or serious illnesses that leave a person incapacitated for potential months.
When an employee suffers this kind of illness and feels as though they will not be able to come to work for some time, they will need to visit their doctor and obtain a note that states the reason for their absence, as well as the amount of time the doctor feels they will need off. Once this is presented to you, it is your legal obligation to allow your employee the requested time off work.
What happens to them during sick leave? Well, the most important thing to remember is not to judge them; especially if they are taking time away because of their mental health. For example, your employee may suffer from severe depression and have been signed off for six months. You may see them visit the beach or out with family and friends having a good time.
During sick leave, you will be expected to pay your employee for their time away. This is so that they can focus on recovering with minimal stress before they return to work. While there is a set minimum that you must pay them, it is up to you as the employer as to whether you pay them their full salary or a reduced one. Either way, it needs to be paid as it is a legal obligation.
The Impact of Sick Leave on Your HR Team
The HR department works hard and has a lot to deal with each day. Therefore, losing a cog in the machine to illness means that everyone has to work a little harder to pick up the slack. This can have a negative impact on the team at first, but it is something that everyone gets used to after a little while, and it is much better than the alternative.
The alternative is that the sick employee is made to stay at work with no time off to recover. This forced labour results in lowered productivity (if it exists at all), low moods, and overall functioning. Not only does this rub off on the team, but it will end up costing you more money than giving your employee the paid time off they need to recover and come back to work feeling great.
Investing in Group Income Protection
Having an employee off work costs money, and that isn’t always something that an employer is able to afford; especially if you need to hire someone to temporarily cover shifts or pay existing staff overtime. At the same time, it is in your best interest that your employee returns to work, and so you need to ensure that their salary is paid.
Group Income Protection allows you to tailor a payment package according to the needs of potentially sick employees that need time off. This contains things like their payments, outside support for while they are away, and help to get back into the swing of things when they return to work. It leaves them feeling cared about when they leave, and also gives you peace of mind.
This form of insurance doesn’t cost a massive amount of money, perhaps as little as 1% of your payroll, and it is exceptionally valuable if and when a staff member falls ill. In addition to this, your package will usually contain some, or all, of the following:
> Day one support
> Mental health services
> Dedicated medical helpline
> Workplace support
> Financial support
> Legal support
> Return to work support
All of these additional features are there to make your employees more comfortable, and they help to ensure that they are recovering well and making the most of the time they have off. Some employers may even offer Group Private Medical Insurance, which can be a pretty big bonus when your staff need support, if you’re willing to spend a little extra on your staff.
Supporting Your Employees When They Return to Work
This is easily forgotten. Once they are ready to come back, it’s simple to just throw them back at their desk and tell them to get on with their work. After all, they know how everything is done, and they are feeling better. Employees often need help and support getting back into the swing of things. They have been off work for weeks, maybe months, and they are no longer in their old routine.
Everyone has a different way of helping employees readjust to work life, but one of the most common forms is allowing them to ease back into their schedule. For example, you can start them on reduced hours with a smaller workload so that they don’t become overwhelmed and feel as though they are drowning in assignments. Small steps lead to better recovery, productivity, and happier staff.
The Growth of Compassion in the Workplace
If you look back about 30 years, perhaps as little as 20 years, there was little to no compassion for illness in the workplace. People were expected to put up and shut up, and it led to workers feeling depressed, unproductive, and also unable to express feelings of illness and distress. The thing we have to remember is that we are all human, and we all have emotions.
When a person is sick, they cannot work to their full capabilities, and it will have a negative impact on their work. Time off may feel inconvenient and like a waste of time, but it is actually the best way to get things back on track as quickly as possible. Compassion is deeply important, and it is an emotion that is growing in the workplace. We are becoming more aware of the feelings of others, and sick leave is slowly starting to be less of a taboo and more of a necessity; which is a trend we are also seeing more employers understand the important for Group Life Insurance due to a moral obligation to their staff.
We need to look at the bigger picture here and realise that Group Income Protection is a vital benefit to your employees. Your employees need time off to recover when they are sick, and so that the costs can be covered without you becoming sick from stress, insurance makes sure that everything is ticked off the list. We need to remember to be kind to each other, to support our workers when they are sick, and ease them back into working life when they have recovered. Things as simple as these three points can be all that separates a good employer from the bad ones.