Guidance for long-term sickness returnees published

Major new guidance has been published to help managers support people returning to work following long-term sickness.

Developed jointly by the British Occupational Health Research Foundation, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives and the Health and Safety Executive, the guidance is focused on illustrating the key behaviours needed by managers to support timely and lasting returns to work.

The “Manager support for return to work following long term sickness absence” document has been developed from research involving employees, line managers, HR, health and safety and occupational health practitioners.

From this, a competency framework has been developed to help employers equip their managers with the necessary skills.

The guidance also includes a questionnaire designed to measure the relevant behaviours for managers, including that they are:

  • staying in touch regularly with the individual while they are sick;
  • reassuring them their job is safe;
  • asking the individual’s permission to keep the team informed of their condition;
  • preventing them from rushing back to work before they are ready;
  • providing a phased return to work;
  • helping them adjust to the workplace at a gradual pace;
  • encouraging colleagues to support the individual’s rehabilitation; and
  • holding regular meetings to discuss the individual’s condition and the possible impact on their work.

Ben Willmott, senior public policy adviser at the CIPD, said: “Line managers play a crucial role in deciding whether returning to work is part of an individual’s recovery and rehabilitation or the catalyst to further breakdown and deterioration.”

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