HR urged to take a bigger role in tackling absence

Absence problems need to be tackled by both HR and occupational health (OH)
departments because much absence is due to non-medical problems.

That was the message from Mary McFadzean, organisational health manager at
HBOS, speaking at this month’s Occupational Health Managers Forum Conference,
in London.

McFadzean explained how the HR department acts as the main operator in the
sickness absence process at the banking firm.

HR and line managers have attended workshops to recognise the underlying
causes of absence, and if it’s a social or work-related problem, they can make
reasonable adjustments to support the person. This results in less reliance on
medical advice and more in-house management of the issues, said McFadzean.

More research is needed on what keeps people at work, she added, but
generous sick pay schemes certainly do not help.

With short-term absence, social factors are the primary cause and
organisations can help break the cycle by providing support for issues in the
workplace that may be affecting people’s health.

By using this method she argued, OH can train HR to tackle the non-medical
absence.

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