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Winter Weather Woes!

DM
BY Donald MacKinnon
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

Winter is well and truly here. Christmas is just around the corner and staff are dropping like flies. The winter bugs are going round the office and as you would expect, managers are looking for ways to stem the tide of sick and ill employees.

It is also difficult for staff: do they come in and potentially spread their germs? or do they stay home and not work for the sake of a simple cold?  There are a few simple measures that organisations can take to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum.

  • Flexible Working / Working from home

This can have numerous benefits for an organisation, particularly at this time of year. It allows employees who are a little bit under the weather, but still able to work, to do so without the risk of contaminating the office. Staff could also use flexitime. It also ensures that severe weather has less of an impact as operations can continue remotely. If people cannot work remotely, it is important that they know whether or not they are going to get paid as this can affect morale. A clear Adverse Weather policy will ensure that there is less confusion.  It is important to remember that every employee has the right to apply to work flexibly.

  • Prevention

As they say prevention is the best medicine. This is a year round remedy that could require some investment and possibly a change in company culture. This doesn’t necessarily mean expensive health insurance or company gym memberships, but an increased emphasis on healthy eating, exercise, vaccinations and good personal hygiene. Related to the first point, flexible working can reduce stress which in turn is proven to lower absence levels. 

  • Have a clear sickness policy

In addition to ensuring that you have an emphasis on healthy living it is important that staff know what to do if they fall ill. Ensuring that you have a clear absence reporting procedure in place is vital. You also need to find out when the employee is likely to return to work as this will allow to plan their absence properly. This also ensures that the staff who are having to cover know what they are expected to do and can prevent them getting frustrated. A return to work interview allows you to ascertain the reason for illness and reinforces to the employee that you are aware of their absence and are monitoring absence levels. 

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