You have a case study provided as a separate document.
Read the case study, and consider your answers to the following questions,
and then we will look at these.
This is a summary of the key points.
Fortune Gifts is in the manufacturing sector,
it has a 120 employees.
Some of these employees have been there for very long time, 30 years plus.
They don't recognize a union,
and training is provided to managers on absence by the HR business partner,
but this is not considered effective by managers.
The key issues in the case study are that managers are
allowed to increase sick pay at their discretion.
This has led to wide variations in how much paid
time-off those with long term ill health conditions receive.
Managers complain that some staff seem to take a couple of weeks off
of sickness each year in the same way that they take annual leave.
This is to take advantage of the paid sick leave.
The work is causing upper-limb disorders,
this is another key problem.
In terms of process,
the key points are,
the trigger points are used.
There was one employee who was fired two years ago for absence,
and this has had a profound effect.
Since then, no one has progressed to that stage.
Staff are frequently complaining about being
managed for what they see is legitimate absence.
Hourly paid and salaried staff are differently managed in terms of absence.
Managers in different departments are treating the same condition differently.
So, the example in the case study is two employees with migraines.
Upper limb disorders are caused by the nature of the work.
So the first question,
are the aspects of the systems that are open to misuse by either managers or employees?
But, it is incredibly difficult to stop this.
Here, there is a sense that employees know how to play the system,
that is by having two weeks of sickness each year,
they take advantage of the sick pay allocation,
but in such a way that they don't fall foul of the absence management process.
Once this kind of practice has been ingrained,
it's very hard to dislodge.
It's also very hard to prove.
Perhaps perfect attendance is what may incentivize staff not to do this.
Although, if administered quarterly,
staff members may achieve perfect attendance in three of
the four quarters and still take their two week sickness in the other quarter.
The attendance award would need to have to be differently designed.
In terms of managers abusing the system, they aren't really.
Rather what is happening,
is that they are following the process to the best of
their knowledge and applying the discretion they are allowed to.
The differences in how people are being treated is giving
rise to issues however and action should be taken.
Perhaps what would help here is to provide managers time to
discuss and share issues relating to absence management.
In this way, a common approach can be established and
newer first-line managers can learn from more experienced colleagues.
This would address the concerns that managers are raising in
respect of their levels of confidence to apply the processes.
The second point, are the systems for managing
short-term absence and long-term health capability effective?
Broadly, the systems that are in place seemed to be fairly typical.
They are not perfect, but no system is.
The processes do appear to be controlling levels of absence,
and it's not uncommon for staff to complain about being managed.
Perhaps, the lack of any sick pay for
new starters leads to presenteeism among that group.
An anonymous staff survey would help provide insight into this.
It's unlikely something that new starters will raise during their probationary period,
is they will want to make a good impression.
They remains the perception that some staff are
taking advantage of the system but overall,
it is more the inconsistency of application already mentioned
that is the main action point here in terms of the system.
There are differences in how managers are managing hourly paid and salaried staff.
Again, this is quite common.
The hourly paid staff are managed for the absence,
but they do not have to catch up on work missed.
Salaried staff are expected to catch
up and are probably working at home when they aren't feeling well.
Perhaps, the answer is to ensure equivalence.
You cannot treat all employees exactly the same,
but there should be fairness across the different employee types.
They should all be managed in some way.
The next question, what are the potential risks for
the company in terms of its current approach to managing absence?
Arguably, the main risk is the potential for
employees or ex-employees to take some kind of legal action in
respect of their poor musculoskeletal health as
the organization is currently bearing its head in the sand on this issue.
This will depend on what rights employees have in this nation,
and you should check this as it will have an impact on
what you can and should do as a manager.
It's the kind of poor treatment that can also prompt employees to
join a union which you may then have to recognize and negotiate with.
Taking the last two questions together,
what responsibility should the company take for
its potential role in causing long-term health conditions?
And based on your answer to question four,
what actions should the company take?
The increased job rotation is good,
but more should be done to improve the existing tasks,
perhaps with higher levels of automation.
The firm should consider what it's doing to mitigate
any legal action from employees who have been disabled by their work.
Perhaps enhance healthcare or some kind of ill-health early retirement option.
These all have a cost but may work out cheaper in the longer term.
They are also arguably the right thing to do here.
Of course, many company see people as a resource to be
used in the same way that any other resources used,
and may make commercial decisions to do the
minimum permissible in terms of people's health and safety.
Ultimately, it's up to you what coach of
absence and health you want to work in as a manager.
Remember, as a first-line manager,
you are also an employee yourself,
and if you are expected to take shortcuts and manage your stuff very robustly,
you can probably expect to be treated the same way by your own manager.