I’m here at the Health and Wellbeing at Work conference and exhibition in Birmingham, with some tips fresh from the Employment Law seminars. It’s a busy affair with lots of people on the exhibition floor and the conference sessions upstairs are also packed.
Discussion group leader Rob Woollen is there with his company, Rightway, offering free Reiki and massage, bottles of water and avice on how to make your workplace healthier. He’s launching his new training programmes designed to better meet the needs of his clients. I’ve also met Rory Murphy of Water Wellpoint as well as lots of other wellbeing specialists. Water Wellpoint assessed me on their six vital signs using one of their wellbeing kiosks. It’s a clever system which means you can check your BMI, blood pressure and body fat content and more, in the office, without having a doctor or nurse present. You can then get advice on how you can improve your reading and see the difference next time.
Altogether there’s a range of people from healthcare and wellness providers to yoga retreats and fitball fanatics. And not a cupcake in sight, unlike truLondon and CIPD ACE last year!
The conference is divided into several themes, such as disease, musculoskeletal and stress. I went to see Teresa Dolan, head of employment and partner at Hammonds LLP, talk about how to get the most out of back to work interviews. Here I’ve put together some tips:
- Back to work interviews can be key in keeping in touch with employees who have been absent, even if it’s for a short time.
- It’s important to decide what kind of policy fits your organisation to get the best out of them.
- Consider when you hold back to work interviews: does it have to be after every absence, or, for example, after the third absence in six months, or perhaps there’s another trigger you might find useful to employ.
- Whichever way you choose to conduct your interviews it’s important to be consistent.
- Do make sure you do them on the day of return – don’t put it off.
- Make sure this is made aclear in your policy along with who conducts the interviews and where they happen.
- Make sure the person conducting the interview knows what they need to get out of the interview: it’s not a disciplinary, it’s only a fact-finding mission, even if there is some suspicion. They need to go in with an open mind and be positive. Make sure they are prepared with all the relevant documents and ensure they have checked that policy has been followed. Always leave enough time for the interview.
- Be supportive and update them of any changes they may need to know about.
- Make notes of when and where it happened, who attended, what was discussed and what action points were taken away from the meeting.
- Remember when you are discussing health condidtions that this is private data abd should be stored away from personnel files and kept in accordance with the data protection act.
- If you are in any doubt about your employee’s health be sure you can refer them to an occuaptional health specialist, and ensure that this is part of your policy.
- If a disability arises, even if you are not explicity told, if it is reasonably clear you need to make adjustments. Always ask the employee if they have any suggestions about this.
- If the unfortunate case of a disciplinary matter arises, ensure you deal with it according to the ACAS code, but don’t be afraid to discpline over bsenteeism. Equally make sure you are not discriminating by association, for example, if soneone is a carer.
- The Pereda ruling has made a difference to the way we deal with holidays and sickness: you may now need to credit holiday if an employee is sick during leave. However that doesn’t mean you can’t set policy which requires them to follow usual sickness procedures so you know where you stand. Make sure this is communicated effectively so employees know what to do in this situation.
- Overall you need to consider your workplace culture, the resources you have available and how you are going to deal with the information you gain from these interviews.
I hope these tips prove useful: it was an interesting talk for sure. I notice there’s been a lot of discussion about the new fit note coming into action next month at the exhibition; we’ll be getting advice and comment on it here on HRzone in the next few weeks, and you can see advice from ACAS themselves here.
If you’ve got a question about any of these issues or a point to make, why not head over to the discussion groups or any answers sections – or even dive in with a blog – we feature the best blogs on the e-bulletins each week.