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November 7, 2008

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Book Review- Managing sickness absence

The aim of this latest publication is to help employers in managing sickness absence and moving towards a high-attendance culture.

The publication consists of 20 chapters covering six distinct areas. These areas include an introduction – first steps; short-term absence; longer-term absence; medical support; difficult cases; and well-being. A route map at the beginning shows how each area follows on and is inter-linked to others.

The chapters are short and the whole publication is easy to understand. Contained within each chapter are the key issues relating to that topic, with various flow charts, checklists, and model forms and documents to help the manager. For example, chapter 10 includes a model attendance-management policy and typical causes relating to sick pay. The ‘Difficult cases’ chapter covers nervous breakdown, catastrophic injury or illness, ill-health early retirement, workplace accidents, suspected abuse of the sick-pay scheme, and managing an employee who goes off sick with stress during disciplinary proceedings.

Successfully moving to a higher-attendance culture requires working together among a number of key groups. The employer must work well not only with the employee but also the various specialists, who will be advising them, including the occupational health provider, if there is one. There are a couple of chapters that deal with OH and medical support, including how to assess your OH provider, and a whole series of sample letters to general practitioners.

Although this publication is not aimed directly at safety practitioners, the topic is one in which, with the increasing integration of human-resource issues, occupational health, and health and safety areas, many people might find themselves involved. Consequently, this is a very useful cross-over document for anyone involved, however slightly, in managing sickness absence.

At first glance, it might seem expensive at £95 for non-EEF members but, compared with other safety and health-related publications, and the money saved by achieving a higher-attendance culture, it is money well spent.

EEF has really thought about this publication, even to the extent that it is wire spiral-bound, which means it lies flat on the desk when you are trying to read it!

Managing sickness absence: A toolkit for changing work culture and improving business performance was reviewed by Nick Cornwell-Smith.

Published by: EEF

ISBN: 978 1 905715 15 2,

£95 rrp (EEF member price: £65 – also downloadable as a pdf)

pp 162

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