The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has produced new guidance to help employers support staff suffering from mental health problems and help employees return to work.
Research by the CIPD shows that more than half of employers reported an increase in stress-related absence in 2004, highlighting the significant impact mental ill health has on long-term absence levels.
The length of time an individual takes sick leave from work has been shown to have a strong relationship to the likelihood of returning to work. Studies show:
- After six months’ absence there is only a 50 per cent chance that an employee will return to work
- At 12 months this falls to 25 per cent
- After two years there is practically no chance.
The guide, Recovery, Rehabilitation and Retention, offers practical guidance on how organisations can support, rehabilitate and retain employees who are suffering from stress and other mental health problems.
It emphasises that there needs to be a case management approach to rehabilitation to ensure that there is someone, whether it is a line manager, or a representative from occupational health or human resources, responsible for ensuring that an individual’s return to work is managed consistently.
Ben Willmott, CIPD employee relations adviser, said: “Employers must do more than simply request and file a sick note if they are to cut absence. Managers should engage with their staff to get to the root of the problem and help staff to get back into the workplace. Engaging with staff will help both organisations and employees.
“Employers need to have a clear rehabilitation policy in place, this will help to ensure staff are aware of available assistance and managers are clear about the role they play in the process,” he said.
“Line managers play an essential part in the rehabilitation process and it is important they are trained so they are aware of how they can help members of staff who have been off work sick for long periods integrate back into the organisation.”