Doing The Right Thing

Sickness absence is one of the most frequent problems we deal with at KHES.  In particular, the employee that says they are unable to work because of stress or depression.
One of the key worries of our clients is that the employee is just “pulling a sickie”.  
I used to manage a group of legal advisors and there were three staff who had a lot of time off for depression or stress related issues. When I took over the department the situation had been going on for nearly 2 years. 
As stress and depression are often self-diagnosed I decided to book each one of them in for a medical assessment with a clinical psychologist.  
The first person was felt to be suffering because he had recently lost 2 close members of his family.  The psychologist recommended a course of counselling and a programme of gradual return to work.  The process was successful and after 6 months we had an effective member of staff who was happily handling a heavy workload.  
The second person immediately refused and claimed that we were treating him unfairly.  In truth, I suspect he was worried that an expert would see through his depression, so he left before he was pushed.  The claim of unfair treatment went nowhere. 
That just left the third person, who returned to work as soon as the second person resigned. We found out that she was only off sick because she was constantly having to cover for the second person, but didn’t want to subject herself to a medical examination. 
The net effect was that we got 2 members of staff back in work and contributing to the company and got rid of the member of staff who was unwilling to address his high absenteeism. 
The lesson in this is that the system works well for employees who have a genuine illness and ensures they are taken seriously and not discriminated against.  From the company’s point of view, it also works just as well for those employees who are “swinging the lead” who discover that their claims of illness will be thoroughly investigated.

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