Working with people means you will have to deal with staff being absent sick. Absence may be due to sickness, but is not always caused by it. It has been proven that absenteeism results from a behavioural choice. A choice made by the staff member, but also by you, the manager. Behaviour can be influenced.
We can hear you saying it already: "When my people call in sick, they are sick!" We do not doubt this in the slightest. Yet feeling ill or having some complaints does not mean the staff member is incapable of work. Discussions you have with your staff members should not be about their illness, treatment or medication. You are not a medical expert. For that matter, you do not have a treatment relationship with the staff member, but an employment relationship. So that is what your discussion with them should be about.
What do you talk about with the staff member?
- What consequences does their sickness have for the work?
- What is the staff member unable to do due to their sickness?
- How is the work impeded?
- Does the staff member have any other capabilities they could use that are relevant to the work?
- In what way can such capabilities be utilized by charging the staff member with fitting tasks?
However, the key question is: "How are you doing?" This question you ask out of concern and for social reasons, not for medical ones.
Tell your staff members that you will focus on these six questions when they call in sick, not on their medical issues. This makes it clear to staff members what they can expect.
In case their calling in sick leads to absenteeism:
- Immediately make a follow-up appointment within 1 week after their first day of absence and do so after each subsequent contact moment.
- Immediately report the absence to the official responsible for sickness absence registration in your unit.
- Consult with the HR manager and/or rehabilitation coordinator if you have any questions, for instance on whether the staff member needs to be called to the company doctor's surgery, or on where to turn to for help with finding suitable work.
- After no more than 2 weeks of absence you are to discuss the staff member's situation with them to verify whether they are expected to recover in the short term. This discussion is preferably to take place in the workplace.
- Depending on the results of this meeting, you will initiate either the 'expected prolonged absence' or 'no expected prolonged absence' procedure.
All agreements made are to be recorded in the E-care sickness absence monitoring system.