How Do Small Businesses Deal with Long Term Sickness?

Long term sickness can be difficult to deal with in any business. However, when that business is staffed by just two or three people, when one of them needs to take a long period of time off work, because they are ill, the impact can be even greater. How do you cope without them? How long do you have to keep their job open?

One of our clients is a small agency with just three members of staff, including the business owner. Earlier this year, their secretary was rushed into hospital. After three weeks of tests, she was told that she should take another 2-3 months to fully recover. The business owner knew that this was the best course of action, not wanting his employee to return to work before she was really well enough to work again. So that he and his other team member weren’t over loaded with work (which could have made both of them stressed and ill!) they took on a part-time Admin Assistant to cover the work. The boss still had to pay Statutory Sick Pay to his recuperating secretary and, due to changes to the law that occurred in April 2014, he was not able to claim any of this back – something that is easier for larger companies to bear.

All through this time, the business owner had kept in touch with his secretary to see how she was getting on. As the agreed period of sick leave was coming to an end, it became apparent that she might not be ready to return to a full-time job. There were other complications that meant that a full risk assessment would have to be carried out, should she return. How long should the job be kept open?

Our advice to our client was to write to the employee’s doctor and ask for a full medical report. Even though this had to be paid for, it showed that she was not ready to go back to working full-time. During her time away, the other members of the small team had realised that they really did need full-time support. Because the lines of communication had been kept open, the three of them were able to reach an amicable decision about the future, which suited both of them.

The lessons they have all taken away from this situation is to stay in communication (aside from the fact that it shows you care!) and to get advice from an HR professional, to make sure you are complying with employment law at all stages. When you follow these two tips, potentially tricky situations are so much easier to resolve.

 

(HR) Human Resources for Small Businesses

When you run a small business, taking on and managing staff can be one of the hardest things to get your head around. Here are a few of the basics that you need to get right.

Employment contracts – This is the most important HR document you’ll have in your business. You’re legally obliged to provide every employee with a written statement of the terms and conditions of their employment within two months of them starting with you.

National Minimum Wage – Almost all workers in the UK aged 16 or over are legally entitled to be paid a minimum hourly amount. The rate is reviewed every year and usually increases in October. Click here for the current rates.

Holidays – All employees are entitled to a minimum amount of time off per year. For full time employees the maximum is 28 days. You can work out your employee’s holiday entitlement by clicking here. Some companies like to give their staff an extra day off on their birthday, if it falls on a working day.

Pensions – Since July 2012 changes have been brought in. Every business will have to provide eligible employees with a qualifying pension scheme and make minimum levels of contributions into it. Talk to pension providers to find out when you need to set up your scheme.

Statutory Sick Pay – When an employee is absent from work due to sickness for more than three continuous working days, they become entitled by law to receive Statutory Sick Pay.

Discipline and Grievance Process – When dealing with disciplinary and grievance situations in the workplace, you should follow the Acas Code of Practice.

Dismissal Procedure and Tribunals – Dismissing an employee is fraught with risk for employers, so you should make sure that you follow the correct procedure and take advice.

These are just a few of the things you need to know. It’s best to deal with issues before they become big problems, so if you need any more advice, please do get in touch.