HSE guide helps union reps with sickness absence

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a guide for trade union representatives, offering practical advice on long-term sickness absence and return to work issues.

Each week one million workers take time off work because of sickness. Most return to work within days, however about 17,000 people remain off work for longer. Almost one in five people, who are absent for more than six weeks, leave work permanently.

The guide outlines key actions that union representatives can take, in partnership with employers, to reduce sickness absence and help sick employees to successfully return to work.

Actions trades union representatives can take with their employers include:

  • Helping to identify measures to improve worker health
  • Suggesting the development of workplace policies for managing sickness absence
  • Helping to keep workers who are off sick in contact with work
  • Helping to plan adjustments to enable return to work
  • Supporting and empowering sick workers to return to work
  • Helping to promote understanding of ill health and disability at work

Hugh Robertson, head of health and safety at the TUC and a member of the Health and Safety Commission, said: “This guide will help union safety representatives show employers that taking a positive approach to managing sickness absence and supporting workers in getting back to work is in everyone’s interest.”

The leaflet can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/web02.pdf

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