Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Paul Robertson’s letters (5 August) questioning the “reliability ofdoctor diagnosis on fitness to work” provoked much response from readers.Can we trust the word of a doctor? Is it so easy for patients to mislead adoctor? Do our employees ‘bunk off’ with the added support of a doctor’scertificate? And to make things worse, according to numerous press reports,record temperatures across the UK last month brought a huge rise in ‘sicky’dial-a-days for sunbathers. With this growing trend and scale, why do so many believe that not enough isbeing done to minimise absenteeism. I believe there are three inhibitors: – The Fear Factor (a stick with no carrot) Do we truly understand our duty of care as an employer in terms of theimpact of the Disability Discrimination Act, health and safety at work andenvironmental legislation? Do we truly know when we can terminate an employmentcontract following sickness related incidents? And if that’s not enough toscare you, there’s plenty of other legislation and reports, such as the onefrom the TUC which points out that workers exposed to stress for half theirworking lives are 25 per cent more likely to die from a heart attack. – Management How many line managers are adequately briefed to be able to tackle analleged offender? How many managers rely on HR to tackle this welfare type rolewhen fears of personal litigation hang over their heads? – Human Resources At a basic level, HR needs to provide sufficient management information onattendance, sick records, trend analysis and benchmarks. This requires commonprocesses, organisation and technology readily accessible by line managers. Ata business partner level, HR has to coach and equip managers with the necessaryskills to address this people issue and measure company performance in thiscritical area of attendance management. And let’s not forget the cause ofabsenteeism rather than just the effect itself. So is there a carrot? It’s not surprising there is a reluctance to tacklethis sensitive problem head on with such a stick to beat management back. Andyet there is a huge carrot for those who can get to grips with the growingtrend that the average UK worker has 7 days sick leave per year. A recentsurvey estimated that absence from work costs British organisations £11bn everyyear, or 9 per cent of annual salary costs. With an £11bn prize at stake, this is a classic example where HR could trulyact as the business partner that it aspires to be. It is a great opportunity toadd significant, and measurable value to an organisation’s bottom line. If it needs help, HR could always outsource the basics, freeing it up tofocus on this strategic issue. By Alan Bailey Eleven billion reasons to be business focusedOn 9 Sep 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.