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7 Tips for Long Term Absence

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How do you deal with an employee who has been out of the running for a long time? What can you do to help him? Expert Ike Sarlemijn gives 7 tips.

The starting point for the reintegration of your sick employee is that you work together on reintegration. This is required by law and regulations.

In addition, you also want the reintegration to go smoothly based on the human relationship between you and your employee. How do you find a good balance in that? A few tips for both aspects.

7 tips from Ike Sarlemijn for long-term absence:

1. Make an absence protocol

It's smart to draw up an absence protocol. In it you describe in concrete terms the steps that are taken when someone is sick. As an employer you can make an absence protocol yourself, but this must comply with the legal rules. The basic rules can be found in the Gatekeeper Improvement Act .

In addition, you can include specific rules that apply within your company and that match your view of staff.

2. Act immediately in the event of a conflict

If a conflict threatens to arise, for example if an employee refuses suitable work, you must take immediate action. Your employee has certain obligations with regard to reintegration, but you must point this out to him.

Pay sanction:

Sometimes as an employer you have to give a warning or impose a wage sanction if your employee doesn't comply with the rules. If you don't do this, you can get a sanction from the UWV .

It's smart to immediately seek advice from a legal expert in the event of an imminent conflict. In the meantime, you must continue to comply with laws and regulations. That's really important. After all, reintegration doesn't stand still.

3. Keep the reintegration file up to date

An important rule for long-term absenteeism is keeping a reintegration file. The UWV requires a complete reintegration file if your employee applies for benefits after 2 years of illness.

In this file you keep all agreements and forms concerning the reintegration of your sick employee. This is how you demonstrate that you have done everything in the reintegration. You start this file in the early period of the absence, even if you expect the absence to last less than 2 years.

4. Be critical of the parties you engage

Based on laws and regulations, you as an employer remain responsible for the reintegration of your sick employee. You can't blindly trust a specialist, even if you pay him for it.

Occupational health and safety service, company doctor, case manager and other specialists

So take a critical look at the occupational health and safety service with which you collaborate and the opinions of the company doctor, case manager and any other specialists.

Check whether agreements and expectations are logical and well-founded and whether they are being achieved. If such an expert makes a mistake, you're the one who can be sanctioned by the UWV for this.

5. Maintain your most important capital

Your staff is your most important capital. You want to handle that well. You can compare it with the most valuable machines you have. You do your best to ensure that they don't break (prevention).

You also perform regular maintenance by keeping an eye on whether your employees can perform their work properly and helping them to do it as well as possible. For example, by offering additional training, regularly discussing personal development, or adjusting schedules when needed.

Try to keep an eye on how your employee is doing.

- Are there any signs that someone is getting sick?
- What does an employee need?

Make sure you know the employee well or appoint someone else to deal with your employee on a daily basis. This way you can respond to someone's needs much faster. Personal care for your people is very important in every phase.

6. Keep in constant contact during the absence

Should it go wrong despite prevention? Then a good repair (reintegration) is in place. As soon as someone calls in sick, you must pick up the contact. Immediately plan another contact moment when reporting sick.

Company doctor

If the absence lasts longer, it's useful to contact us after every appointment with the company doctor. More often is of course also possible, unless the company doctor advises against this. Good contact promotes reintegration.

That way you can make appointments quickly and easily when resuming work is possible.

7. Ask the right questions

If an employee is ill for a long time, discuss together what you can do about the reintegration. How can you contribute to this as an employer?

See to what extent you can make a difference. If someone breaks his leg, you can't prevent it or speed up the recovery. But you can solve a transport problem - make sure someone is picked up, for example, as soon as he is able to work again.

Therefore ask the questions:

- What do you need to be able to work (partially) again?
- What can you do yourself?
- What can the company doctor do for you?
- What can I do for you as an employer?

That's different from talking about illness. This isn't allowed under privacy legislation, but it's not necessary either: you talk to each other about reintegration into work. Sometimes having a conversation is difficult. Soon I will give tips about having an absence interview.

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