HR tackles sickness absence for HBOS

In
a highly controversial presentation, Mary McFadzean, organisational health
manager at HBOS, described how the HR department is the main operator in the
sickness absence process at the banking firm.

She
said that because much absence is due to non-medical problems, HR and line
managers have attended workshops to assist them in recognising the underlying
causes of absence. Where the cause is a social or work-related problem, they
can make reasonable adjustments to support the individual. This results in less
reliance in medical advice and more in-house management of the issues.

More
research is needed on staff motivation and what keeps people at work, she said,
but generous sick-pay schemes don’t help. Particularly with short-term absence,
social factors are the primary cause.

The
organisation can help to break the cycle of short-term absence by providing
support for workplace issues that may be exacerbating health problems.

By
using this method she argued, OH can help train HR to have the confidence to
tackle the causes of non-medically related absence in areas that can be
addressed by a pro-active HR function.

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