25.07.2005

Preventing sickness absence becoming job loss

A guidance leaflet, Working together to prevent sickness absence becoming job
loss, has been published by the British Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to
furnish safety and other trade union representatives with information and
practical advice on long-term sickness absence and return to work issues.

Workers at risk of long-term sickness absence are often people who experience
common health problems like back pain and mental health conditions. In many
cases, it is barriers at work that prevent or delay their return. Simple
adjustments like shorter working hours over an agreed period, modifying tasks
or access to work stations or providing equipment can make all the difference
(see examples of adjustments listed below).

To identify and plan adjustments, employers need information from the worker,
and can also benefit from ideas suggested by people like you, who have
practical experience of the workplace:


  • Use your knowledge and experience, when you can, to help suggest practical
    solutions to your employer and the worker concerned.
  • Health is not the whole story. Job satisfaction and a well-managed working
    environment make common conditions such as joint pain or anxiety easier to cope
    with.
  • Remember that employers cannot give you health information about an
    individual worker without that person's informed consent.

Examples of adjustments

The following examples are of adjustments that employers could introduce
temporarily while the worker regains strength, mobility or capacity to work, or
more permanently as reasonable adjustments to allow disabled workers to
continue working.

Adjustments to working arrangements


  • Phased returns to work to build up strength, for example building up from
    part-time to full-time hours over an agreed and appropriate period of time.
  • Changes to individuals' working hours to allow travel at quieter times, or
    flexible working to ease work/life balance.
  • Help with transport to and from work, for example organising lifts to work,
    or finding out what help may be available to a disabled worker through the
    Access to Work scheme.
  • Home working (providing a safe working environment can be maintained).
  • Time off during working hours for rehabilitation assessment or treatment.

Adjustments to premises


  • Moving tasks to more accessible areas and closer to washing and toilet
    facilities.
  • Adapting premises, for example providing a ramp for people who find steps
    difficult, improving lighting where sight-impaired people work, providing clear
    visual signs and alerts for deaf workers.

Adjustments to the job

  • New or modified equipment and tools, including IT, modified keyboards etc.
  • Modified workstations, furniture, and movement patterns.
  • Additional training for workers to do their job, for example refresher
    courses.
  • Modified instructions or reference manuals.
  • Modified work patterns or management systems to reduce pressures and give the
    worker more control.
  • Telephone conferences to reduce travel or if face-to-face meetings cause
    anxiety.
  • Modified procedures for testing or assessment.
  • Buddies, mentors or supervision for workers while they regain confidence back
    at work.
  • Reallocating work within the person's team.
  • Alternative work.

Further Information


AplusA-online.de - Source: Health and Safety Executive (HSE)