Long term absence management starts at day one

Every long term absence begins with a single day off. Now HCML has created a new way to capture individual sick-leave cases before they turn into costly long-term absence management headaches.

Launched under the name MAP-Lite, HCML has said its new service could save the UK economy £56 billion in lost time, productivity and management costs.

Pete Clark, a qualified occupational therapist and HCML’s corporate and public sector head, said it can cut absence rates by two thirds and annual absence costs by £170,000 in a 1,000 workforce.

On day one of absence, staff report directly to HCML who can pass relevant information to line managers while performing an immediate clinical assessment on health related absence and their working role.

HCML’s assessment and independent report is used to build a bespoke plan to manage a quick, safe return to work. It lists the steps that staff and manager need to take to reach a mutually agreed goal.  It identifies risk factors that could prolong absence, with more detailed assessments in such cases.

During the self-certified time off work, HCML can provide Allied Health Professions fit-notes.  These can remove delays over GP visits and either reduce absence or, if needs be, extend it for treatment.

Clark said: “We can deliver savings of 62 per cent in absence management costs by applying the clinical concept of early intervention.

“Line managers hesitate to call absent staff on day one and to even discuss health matters, which can mean neglect for staff who may need help with stress, anxiety or physical problems.

“Meanwhile, managers have traditionally had to rely on occupational health reports, which may arrive late and offer no direction to staff and managers on what to do next.

“These are all perfect conditions for sickness absences to escalate and lengthen.

“We turn that around, with professional, nurturing contact on day one. So whether the employee needs just bed-rest or a real medical plan, they get to speak openly and agree clear goals with experts with in-depth clinical knowledge and a thorough understanding of their job role.

It offers professional resolution and also addresses issues of capability and, where appropriate, the Equality Act, with relevant advice.

According to The Institute for Employment Studies between 2 and 16 per cent of annual salary bills may be spent by employers on absence.