Star comment: Cheshire Constabulary steals a march
I read with interest the news report on the government recommending that employers should appoint a trained ‘keyworker’ to support employees going back to work (‘NICE guidelines call for early contact with staff on sick leave’, Personneltoday.com, 24 March).
This is something that the Eastern Basic Command Unit (BCU) of Cheshire Constabulary has been undertaking since 2007. An opportunity arose for a police officer to work within the HR team, concentrating on managing the potential long-term cases with the aim of getting them back to work at the earliest opportunity.
The involvement of an officer with the policing knowledge and understanding of the various roles that could be undertaken by a recuperative officer has been an essential part of the teamwork approach to the issue of sickness absence.
Line managers often find it difficult to take time away from the demands of front-line policing to research all the options and negotiate with the various people involved in getting someone back to work at the earliest opportunity.
The use of a specialist case worker has also ensured a consistent application of our policies, provided a fair evaluation of each individual’s circumstances, and matched the person to a temporary role, adjusted to suit their needs. We have also used homeworking to support difficult cases.
This good practice, together with face-to-face case conferences, has enabled the Eastern BCU to achieve the lowest sickness absence figures compared to similar units across the country. This means that fully fit operational officers do not end up spending more time in the police stations trying to catch up with their absent colleagues’ paperwork.
For a public sector service we believe we are heading in the right direction.
Jane Braithwaite, area HR manager, Cheshire Police