Long-Term Sickness Absence – A Tricky Issue for This Golf Club
Employee absence from work, whether through annual leave or sickness can be tricky to manage, particularly for small organisations such as golf clubs. The challenge is even greater if an employee succumbs to an illness and needs an extended period away from the workplace. It is difficult for the individual, for their co-workers and for the club, especially when there is no scheduled date for return. This was one of the issues facing Chris Allen, the chairman of Rotherham Golf Club with a member of staff who had been off work for a considerable amount of time.
“She had regularly been off in the past with a stress-related issue that was personal to her and not as a result of work. When you receive a sick note saying the illness is related to stress you wonder how you are going to deal with it. That’s because it is a bit of an intangible one, and you are unsure how to address it. When someone has a broken leg you know they will be off for a set number of weeks. But when it is to do with stress and it’s intermittent and then there is a long period of absence for months and months, you worry about how you are going to bring that to a conclusion.”
According to Chris, this employee’s most recent period of absence looked like it would go on for more than a year with no foreseeable end. Moreover, there was nothing in the medical reports that indicated the situation was going to improve anytime soon. The club was mindful of its obligations and duty of care towards the individual, but at the same time conscious of the financial strain it was putting them under.
“Her work was covered by other people filling in, but that wasn’t sustainable for the longer term. It was costing us more than the activity should, because we were paying other people to do extra work, as well as keeping the job open and paying the absent employee. We couldn’t carry on like that indefinitely.”
Chris had some previous experience dealing with long-term illness issues from his time in the corporate world. However, the rules and regulations are complex and he was unsure whether his knowledge was current and appropriate. So he sought guidance from Golf HR.
“They gave us some very good advice, such as this is the first thing you need to do and what to ask for. And if she responds like this or doesn’t respond then this is the next course of action to take as appropriate. It was like a handholding exercise all the way through.”
As a result of Golf HR’s guidance, an amicable solution for both parties was reached. Chris was grateful that matters were brought peacefully to a close and is very satisfied with the relationship the club has with Golf HR.
“The service has been great. I have had responses to everything promptly and they have been clear, concise instructions. They have a nice manner with everything as well.”