A Guide to Managing Employees with Long Term Sickness

long term sickness

Recent ONS figures have shown that more than 2.5 million people in the UK are no longer working due to sickness. Mental health issues, neck and back problems due to home working are believed to have contributed to this sharp rise. While long-term sickness is more likely in industries such as manufacturing and other physical industries, the figures show that all industries have to take long term sickness seriously.

In the realm of modern workplaces, fostering an inclusive and supportive environment for all employees is of paramount importance. One aspect that demands delicate handling is managing employees who are grappling with long-term illnesses. These employees require empathy, flexibility, and effective communication to ensure their well-being while maintaining productivity.

In this blog, we will delve into strategies for managing employees with long term sickness, and fostering an atmosphere of compassion. We will also look at how to drive success both for the individual and the organisation.


Sickness Policy

A well-crafted sickness policy serves as a cornerstone of a fair and efficient workplace. This policy outlines guidelines and procedures for employees who are unable to work due to illness, ensuring consistency and transparency in how such situations are managed. A comprehensive sickness policy typically covers reporting procedures, notification timelines, required documentation, and the provision of sick leave benefits.


By clarifying expectations and procedures, a sickness policy not only supports employees during times of illness but also enables employers to effectively plan and allocate resources, promoting a harmonious balance between the well-being of the workforce and the operational needs of the organisation. Having this policy in place may also help you avoid legal risk in the future.


Track Sickness

By monitoring absences, you can gain valuable insights into trends, patterns, and potential underlying issues that might impact productivity, employee well-being, and how this can lead to long term sickness. This data-driven approach empowers you to make informed decisions, ensure optimal resource allocation, maintain a positive work culture, and uphold transparency and accountability in your workforce management practices.


An easy and reliable way to track absence is through an online HR admin software. We use Breathe HR in our business and also help our clients with accessing the system.


Stay in Touch

Maintain a line of consistent communication with your employee. It’s important to schedule regular check-ins to discuss progress, challenges, and any adjustments required. This will also allow you to stay updated on their health and how they are feeling. It’s important to take notes during these meetings so you have a record of this.


Access to Resources

Another way to manage long term sickness and employee wellbeing in general is to provide access to resources that support your employee’s physical and emotional well-being:


Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

Employee Assistance programs offer a comprehensive range of confidential support services designed to assist employees in managing personal and work-related challenges that could impact their overall health and performance. EAPs typically encompass a spectrum of services, including mental health counselling, stress management, financial and legal consultations, substance abuse assistance, and resources for dealing with life transitions. By providing employees with access to these resources, organisations demonstrate a genuine commitment to their staff’s holistic well-being, fostering a supportive and caring work environment.


Wellness Initiatives

Wellness initiatives play a transformative role in aiding employees dealing with long-term sickness. These initiatives offer a spectrum of proactive and holistic support mechanisms that extend beyond medical treatment. By incorporating wellness programs into the workplace, you empower individuals with tools to manage their health challenges more effectively. These initiatives often include activities like yoga, meditation, mindfulness sessions, nutrition guidance, and stress management workshops. Engaging in these wellness practices can alleviate the physical and emotional toll of long-term sickness, reduce stress, enhance mental resilience, and improve overall quality of life.


Contact Us

If you are in need of support with managing long term sickness or need advice on next steps beyond this, our HR consultants are here to help.


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