Advice and guidance for employers in supporting employees with long term health conditions returning to and continuing in work
Due to the current COVID-19 situation, employees may be absent due to non-COVID related health conditions as well as those relating to COVID-19. It is important to remember the nature of absence when preparing and carrying out any return to work support.
If an employee has a long term condition, then vocational (work) rehabilitation can help them return to and remain in work. This also benefits the organisation in retaining a productive member of their team.
The workplace is a suitable environment to support employees and provide interventions that allow them to come to work or continue at work. Other agencies can provide appropriate healthcare or treatment, which the employer can also access and use for support.
When supporting an employee with a long term health condition, it is important to treat each employee as an individual rather than focus on their health condition, as each person will deal with their condition differently. If an employee has had a recent diagnosis of a long term health condition, there may be a period of adjustment for both employee and employer in coming to terms with the diagnosis and the effects this might have. This may also involve a period of absence from work.
There are some general steps that can be used to determine what support would benefit your employee. Some workers will also require more specific support pertinent to their health condition. When planning workplace adjustments, or a return to work plan, with your employee, consider the following
Your organisation should have a supportive return to work policy taking into account the effect that a person’s treatment programme might have on their physical and mental wellbeing. This policy should reflect arrangements for all illnesses.
The employee and employer should meet regularly
This should be a mix of agreed formal meetings and more informal contact (having coffee, texting or calling). Discussions could agree items such as
When the time is right, develop an agreed written return to work plan and be prepared to alter it if timings don’t quite work.
The return to work plan will include actions that are appropriate adjustments under the
Equality Act 2010 and should consider
For information on workplace health, safety and wellbeing, contact your local health board team