Don't let line managers deal with absences

Don't let line managers deal with absences

HR departments shouldn’t let line managers deal with sickness, absence and disability, according to Canada Life Group Insurance.

Line managers aren’t equipped to deal with the complexity of absence management, believes Paul Avis, Marketing Director of the life and health insurance company.

Speaking to HR Grapevine, he says: “HR departments would normally expect the line manger to manager absences, which on the surface of it is a completely reasonable premise, because HR provides policies, procedures and a range of services and benefits that the line manager can avail themselves of.”

“However,” he continues, “as anyone will know who has actually been involved in either case management of absences or tribunal situations, inevitably, because the line manager isn’t doing this every day, it is a new skill to them. And even with sickness, absence and disability management training, managers still struggle to cope with the diversity, disability and absence situations that they face.”

Avis highlights that this is particularly an issue when it comes to subjective conditions like mental health, musculoskeletal problems or even Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Particularly when assessing whether someone is fit to return to work. He says: “Sometimes it’s the people who are looking to come back to work who are the hardest to manage, rather than the people who don’t want to come into work.”

The solution: Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Avis explains that although an Income Protection Provider doesn’t start to pay-out until at least week 26, they will want early notification to enable them to facilitate the return to work. This is executed through medically-trained rehabilitation consultants that can come in and do the whole of the case management service.

Avis says: “The sad news is, out of 2.8million people insured on income protection only 1,529 cases were recorded as having returned to work by the industry body GRID (Group Risk Industry Development). So the early intervention services that the insurers provide are not actually being used.”

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