Employees being off work with stress is becoming an increasingly common issue in the UK. This can be a huge problem for businesses, as it can impact productivity, affect bottom lines and impact other members of your team.
But if one of your employees is off work with stress, what can you do?
In this article, we will explore some of the reasons behind this problem and explain what you as an employer can do to manage it. We will also look at your rights as an employer and those of your employees and discuss steps you can take to deal with long-term stress-related absences.
Why is Stress-Related Absence Becoming More Common?
Stress-related absence is becoming more common in the UK due to a number of factors such as
- A general increase in anxiety and depression cases.
- Job insecurity and the threat of redundancy.
- Unreasonable workloads.
- Workplace bullying and other issues in the workplace environment.
- Economic and personal issues.
- Boring and repetitive tasks.
- Lack of support from supervisors and colleagues.
- Excessive expectations about performance and outcome.
- Physical environmental factors such as poor ventilation, lighting, temperature control
What Can You Do as an Employer?
If one of your employees is off work with stress, there are a number of things you can do to help them.
Firstly, you should try to create a supportive environment in which they feel comfortable discussing their issues. This could involve setting up regular meetings with them or providing counselling services.
You should also try to identify the cause of their stress and see if there is anything you can do to alleviate it. If the employee’s workload is causing them problems, for example, you could consider lightening their load or transferring them to a different department.
If the employee’s absence is due to bullying or another issue in their workplace environment, you should try to identify the problem and work with all parties involved to resolve it.
What are Your Rights as an Employer?
It is important that you are aware of your rights when dealing with employees who have been off work for a long time due to stress-related issues.
First of all, your employee is allowed to take fewer than seven days off for stress without having to provide any evidence. However, if they are off for more than seven days, they will typically have to provide a doctor’s note or other proof of their illness.
If the employee is taking a long-term absence due to stress, you have the right to contact them to find out how they are doing and when they expect to return to work. However, you are not allowed to harass them or ask for excessive information about their condition.
You also have the right to dismiss an employee if they are taking a long-term absence due to stress and have been unable to return to work after a reasonable period of time. However, you should always seek legal advice before doing this as there are strict legal procedures that must be followed to ensure your dismissal is fair and reasonable.
What Are Your Employee’s Rights?
If an employee takes time off for stress, they have the right to sick pay if their contract states it or if you offer this as part of your company policy. They also have the right not to be harassed or discriminated against due to their illness.
The most important thing is that they feel comfortable discussing their issues with you and receive the support they need to return to work. Be very careful about accusing them of malingering or trying to take advantage of your company’s sick pay policy as this could lead to a breakdown in the relationship between you and your employee.
What Steps Should You Take if an Employee is Off Work with Stress?
If one of your employees has been off work for a long period of time due to stress, there are certain steps you should take. These include:
- Conducting regular meetings with the absent employee via phone or video call to discuss their condition and work-related matters.
- Issuing a formal warning if they are unable to return to work after a reasonable period of time, but only after receiving legal advice on this matter.
- Consulting with an employment lawyer about your options for dismissal or redeployment of the employee.
What Legal Issues Could Arise?
When dealing with an employee who has been off work due to stress, there are a number of legal issues that could arise. These include:
- Harassment and discrimination claims.
- Unfair dismissal claims or constructive dismissal claims if you do not follow the correct procedure for dismissing them.
- Claims for breach of contract if the employee is not receiving their full salary or benefits while they are off work.
This is why it is so important that you seek legal advice before taking any action against an employee who has been off work for a long period of time due to stress.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
If you are unsure about what to do next, an experienced employment lawyer can help you navigate these tricky waters and ensure that your actions are in compliance with the law. They can also help you with any legal issues that may arise, such as discrimination claims or unfair dismissal claims.
These types of legal issues can cause huge damage to your company both financially and reputationally, so it’s important that you are well prepared for any eventuality.
At Neathouse Partners, we have vast experience dealing with issues surrounding employees who are off work with stress. We can assist you in managing this situation so that it is dealt with effectively and efficiently, preventing any damage to your business or workplace environment.
How Can You Make Your Workplace Less Stressful?
There are a number of things you can do to make your workplace less stressful for employees and reduce the number of absence days. These include:
- Creating a clear and concise company policy on stress and absence.
- Offering training to all employees on how to deal with stress in the workplace.
- Encouraging open communication between employees and managers.
- Providing support services, such as counselling or mental health services.
- Creating a positive and supportive work environment.
The most important thing is to create a workplace that is supportive and understanding, where employees feel comfortable discussing their issues. With the right measures in place, you can reduce the amount of stress-related absence in your workplace.
The Importance of HR for Employee Stress
Human Resources (HR) has a vital role to play when it comes to employee stress. They are responsible for ensuring that employees are treated fairly and with respect, regardless of their mental health. They can also provide support services such as counselling or mental health services to help individuals deal with stress in the workplace.
An effective HR setup can make all the difference when it comes to reducing stress at work by creating a positive environment where people feel comfortable discussing issues and seeking help when needed.
The Benefits of Professional HR Shared Services
Professional HR shared services are a cost-effective way to manage your company’s Human Resources needs. Shared services allow you to outsource parts of the HR function, such as payroll or benefits administration while keeping other aspects in house. This means that you can tailor your HR setup to suit your specific needs and budget.
Professional HR shared services are great for small businesses that don’t have the resources or expertise in house, as well as larger companies looking to reduce costs without sacrificing quality service delivery.
For example, if an employee is off with stress then it’s important that their absence from work doesn’t impact other team members too much. This can be achieved through effective absence management procedures provided by your HR shared service providers.
At Neathouse Partners, we provide a huge range of professional HR shared services that are tailored to meet the needs of your business. We can help you manage employee absences, including long-term absences due to stress, and ensure that your workplace is compliant with all relevant legislation.
Other HR Shared Services that May Be of Interest to You
As well as helping with employee stress, we also offer a range of other HR services. These include:
We can help you draft, review and amend contracts of employment for your staff. This will help to ensure that your employees are fairly compensated for their work and also that you are both protected in the event of any disputes. Drafting contracts can be a complex process, so it’s important to get the help of a professional HR service.
An employee handbook is an essential tool for any business. It sets out the expectations and rules that employees must adhere to while working for your company. A good employee handbook will also include information on leave entitlements, disciplinary procedures, grievance handling and much more. We can help you develop an effective employee handbook that meets your needs.
The payroll process can be complex and time-consuming, especially if you have multiple employees with different pay structures or hours worked each week. Outsourcing your payroll to an HR shared service provider like Neathouse Partners means that your employees will be paid in full and on time and that all tax and National Insurance contributions are taken care of so there are no legal issues.
Regular appraisals are a key part of keeping your staff motivated and engaged. We can help you to develop an appraisal system that is tailored to your company’s needs and that will help you to improve employee performance. This will usually involve setting goals and objectives for employees, as well as providing feedback on their progress in order to help them improve.
Employee turnover can be expensive for businesses, so it’s important to keep your staff happy. We’ll help you set up systems that encourage employees to stay with the company and ensure that they feel valued. The more valued your employees feel, the more committed they will be to your company so it’s definitely worth investing in retention measures.
Harassment and Discrimination
We can help you to ensure that your workplace is free from harassment or discrimination, and deal with any issues that may arise. This will involve investigating complaints of harassment or discrimination, as well as providing training for managers and employees on how best to avoid such situations in the first place. These kinds of issues can be extremely damaging to a company’s reputation, so it’s important to deal with them quickly and effectively.
Effective conflict resolution is essential for any business, as it can help to prevent problems from escalating and damaging the company. We’ll work with you to develop a system that will ensure all conflicts are resolved quickly and fairly. This can make all the difference between an employee staying with the company or leaving because they don’t feel supported.
Likewise, if you need to take disciplinary action against an employee, we can help. We’ll guide you through the process step-by-step and ensure that all relevant legislation is complied with. This will minimise the risk of any legal issues arising and will help to protect your company’s reputation.
Stress at work is becoming an increasingly common problem, with employees taking time off work for stress-related reasons more often than ever before. If one of your employees is off work with stress, it is important to understand their rights and what steps you need to take to ensure a smooth return to work. For more assistance, get in touch with us at Neathouse Partners and we can help you manage both your legal and HR requirements.