Carla is having a flare up of her arthritis. It’s so bad that she’s had to take time off work. She’s been off now for 2 months and nothing is getting better, so her GP has signed her off for another 3 months.
Her manager, Joe, is really not sure what to do.
Joe called HR to ask for help. He wasn’t sure how things worked with people who are on long-term sickness. He’s never had to deal with this before.
HR asked him if he’s given her a call to see how she is, but he’s not done that yet. Joe was really concerned that he wasn’t allowed to call her while she was on the sick. The HR Advisor confirmed that he was of course allowed to give her a call. They said, “imagine if you weren’t well and couldn’t come to work and no one called you to ask how you were?”. Joe realised at this point that he would be really upset if he was off work and no one called him to see how he was.
Joe called Carla that afternoon to see how she was. She was so relieved to hear from him. Carla had been really worried that he was upset or angry with her for not being in work. Joe told her that he wasn’t upset or angry at all, he was worried about her and just didn’t know what he could do to help her.
Joe and Carla arranged to have a catch up every fortnight to see how she was doing. They arranged the call for the same day at the same time, but avoided the morning, because Carla found her arthritis was worse in the morning.
Joe also had a chat to Carla about doing a welfare meeting.
That was the first question Carla asked. Joe explained that there was nothing to worry about, it was just like having a catch up on the phone, but they’d do it in person, with a cup of tea, and maybe a few biscuits.
Carla’s next question was “am I going to lose my job?”. “Absolutely not!” says Joe. The meeting is to see what the company can do to help her back to work, he explains. It’s not about getting rid of her.
At the meeting they go through some questions:
Once they got those questions out of the way, Joe asked Carla if she would be happy to see an Occupational Health Advisor. Joe told her that this person would be a medical professional that she could talk to, who would then write a report for the company to say what they could do to help Carla while she was in work. Carla had never been to see an Occupational Health Advisor before and said she was worried.
Carla’s main concern was that the company would see her medical records. She had an operation a few years back that she didn’t really want anyone to know about and was concerned. Joe helped to ease those concerns by telling her that he or the company would not see her medical records. He explained to her, that when someone is sent to see an Occupational Health Advisor, the only thing that the company gets to see is the report that is written by the Advisor. No one looks at her medical records, so she’s got nothing to worry about.
Now that Carla’s mind was at rest, she agreed to attend an appointment.
After the appointment with Occupational Health, Joe received the report. There was a lot of really useful information in there that helped him to understand Carla’s needs when she was in work. Because Carla was so used to just getting on with things, Joe hadn’t realised that she was struggling to use the keyboard they’d given her, and it made the pain in her hands worse. The Advisor recommended a specific type of keyboard that would ease the pain and mean it’s easier for her to use. They’d also recommended that Carla is allowed to take more regular breaks.
Joe and Carla had agreed to have another tea and biscuit meeting (aka welfare meeting) once the report had come in, so they could talk about what to do next. At the meeting they discussed the report and agreed that Joe would order the keyboard for her. He also reminded her that she could take breaks as regularly as she needed to.
Carla told Joe that she’d had some good news from her Doctor since the last time they’d spoken. She confirmed that they’d changed her medication and she was starting to feel a lot better.
Joe suggested that Carla comes into the office to have a catch up with the team and they agreed a date. He told her that he didn’t expect her to do any work; it was literally a chance for her to come in and see everyone (and maybe have a few more biscuits). Carla asked whether she would be able to do a phased return to work and Joe thought this was a brilliant idea. Carla wanted to start by coming in 2 or 3 days a week then work her way back up to her normal hours.
If you’ve got someone on long-term sickness and you don’t know what to do, we’re here to help! Give us a call