YES you can and YES you should!
You have a duty of care to maintain reasonable contact with employees during a period of absence. Equally, an employee has a responsibility to maintain reasonable contact with the school.
When do I contact?
There is no set time period, each employee’s situation will be different, however cases should be handled in a fair and consistent manner. When an employee is absent with a minor illness and expected to return within a few days, contact is not necessary and you should follow the absence up with a return to work meeting to ensure they are fit to return. You want to make sure there are no underlying concerns which may impact on their welfare and attendance in the future. However, do not wait until your employee is absent on a long-term basis.
Contact can be a sensitive matter. Employees may shy away from contact, however it is a key factor in helping them to recover and return to work successfully when handled in the right way, especially if the employee is suffering from a stress-related illness. It also will make them feel valued. Listen carefully to their updates, concerns and needs and agree the next contact point and the purpose for contact.
Reasonable contact includes telephone conversations and meetings to discuss the employee’s welfare, what treatment they are receiving, any support that can be offered, and when appropriate, arrangements for a return to work including reasonable adjustments. It may be appropriate for employees experiencing a psychological illness or a musculoskeletal complaint, that an immediate referral to occupational health is made to assist them in recovering and returning to work.
In some circumstances, where employees are unable to attend a meeting at their usual workplace, it may be appropriate for management to arrange an alternative venue. This may include the employee’s home, with their agreement, or a neutral venue.
SAM helps you manage absence by creating cases. In each case you can add Fit Notes, Occupational Health Reports and Return to Work documents, all helping you when you do contact the employee or have a meeting. SAM also reminds you when meetings are due and maintains evidence to show a fair process has been followed. If you don’t currently benefit from SAM, get in touch with the team on 01924 907319 to arrange a demo.
Our sister company FusionHR offer documents and templates to support you in managing your employee welfare and attendance including model policy, letters, risk assessments and questionnaires. If you need any guidance or help, please get in touch with one of the team on 01924 827869.